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Saturday, April 20, 2024 — Houston, TX

Oversold parking permits prompt student frustration

Andrew Lin / Thresher

By Simona Kao     11/7/23 10:49pm

Rice Parking informed South Colleges Lot parking permit holders that they were allowed to use the Entrance 3 Garage if they are unable to find parking spots, according to a September email obtained by the Thresher.

 Parking manager Michael Morgan said there are intentionally more permits issued for the SCL than available spots. Morgan said the same is true for the North Colleges Lot.

“The South Colleges Lot has 102 spaces, of which 111 permits are sold. Our counts have demonstrated that, on average, there are three or more open spots at all times for permit holders to use,” Morgan wrote in an email to the Thresher. “[It] can be challenging [because]  those without proper permits use that lot to park — students, employees, construction workers and campus visitors.”

Alice Sun, a junior from Will Rice College, parks in the SCL and said the combination of oversold parking lots and construction has adversely affected her ability to find a parking space. 

“I think the lots being oversold definitely has affected how often I can find parking, especially with all the construction going on at the Old Sid Richardson [building],” Sun said. “With permits being oversold, construction and the occasional visitors taking up spaces in South Lot, it’s often too full.”

In addition, Shikhar Verma, a senior from Duncan College, has a North Colleges Lot parking permit and said he has also struggled to find parking before because of overselling.

“[Rice Parking] definitely oversells for North [Colleges Lot], as well,” Verma said. “I would say on the weekdays, when there’s a lot of students who commute in and want to park at Duncan, it’s very hard to find a lot [to park in].”

Morgan confirmed that there are 115 spots sold out of the 108 spots that exist in NCL.

Shivani Lotlikar, a senior from Duncan, believes there are fewer parking spaces compared to previous years in addition to overselling, which has contributed to the problem.

“Since they built the O’Connor building, it got rid of all of the parking spaces that were surrounding the Abercrombie building,” Lotlikar said. “I think, in addition to overselling, there are just far fewer spots than they previously had available.”

Rice student enrollment is expected to expand by 800 students by fall 2025. As the student body expands, the quantity of cars on campus is expected to increase as well, according to Morgan. 

“Currently, we have the available parking spaces to support the student growth expected,” Morgan said.

Verma, however, said he does not believe that Rice’s current parking infrastructure can handle student growth, citing his previous struggles to find parking spaces in his designated lot. 

“A lot of times, especially on the weekends, people who don’t have a permit for a particular lot know that no one is really going to enforce anything, so they just park their car in the North Colleges Lot,” Verma said. “I’m paying a couple hundred dollars extra to have this privilege, so it can be pretty frustrating.”

Wanqi Yuan, a senior from Duncan, also doesn’t believe Rice can support more cars on campus and has previously struggled to find parking in her designated lot.

“I personally decided to get a parking pass at the North College Lots because I have a part-time internship this semester … and I have a class right after my job … but there have been multiple times where I come back from my job around 3:30 p.m., and I can’t find a spot anywhere close,” Yuan said. “I’ll have to park in, for example, 15-minute parking in order to get to class on time. I’ll come back and I’ll have a ticket, which is unavoidable, but it’s a little frustrating.”

Semesterly parking permits cost $204 for the Greenbriar Lot, $266 for the South Stadium Lot, $327 for the West Lot, $633 for College Lots and $1,009 for the Central Campus Garage for undergraduate students. In addition, a $225 surcharge is added to the cost of parking permits.

Daniel Ling, a former undergraduate student parking representative from 2020 to 2021, said that although his experience with Rice Parking has generally been positive, permits are more expensive than he would like them to be. As the undergraduate student parking representative, Ling represented undergraduate student concerns at the monthly parking meetings with faculty and staff representatives.

“From my experiences on the [undergraduate parking] committee, the university treats it very much like a pure revenue-generating thing,” Ling, a Baker College senior, said. “Overall, the university treats it as a sort of easy cash grab because they know kids will pay it.”

Morgan said revenue from permits is used to sustain the university’s parking and bus system, as inflation is a key driver to the increase in parking permit costs over time.

Despite these necessary costs, Sun expressed her frustration with limited parking spaces despite paying a total of $858 for a South Colleges Lot permit.

“One time, I was running late for a class, and there were no spots left in South Lot, so I had to park in the Lovett South Lot in front of Cohen House,” Sun said. “I was super busy the whole day, so I didn’t have time to move my car, and then I got ticketed and had to pay an extra $30. It really shouldn’t have come to that, especially since I’m already paying over $800 per year for parking.”

Editor’s Note: Alice Sun is the Art Director for the Thresher.

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