Miami’s Parking and Transportation Services introduced new parking meters to the campus this year, most notably in Shriver Center’s west lot, as part of an effort to make short-term parking easier for visitors.
Parking for students, on the other hand, is getting no easier and no cheaper. This, however, is part of Miami’s transition to a more sustainable transportation system.
Junior Cole Tyman, the Associated Student Government (ASG) Secretary for On-Campus Affairs, has been working to address students’ parking concerns. The main concerns are ticket prices and limited lot accessibility.
Many lots on campus, according to Tyman, restrict student parking during daytime hours. Any passes other than red faculty passes are only permitted outside the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Looking at a parking lot with no cars in it and needing to use that space while you have a club meeting, for instance, doesn’t really make much sense,” Tyman said, referring to the vacant spaces in the red-only lots that prohibit any other parking passes during school days.
Another student concern, according to Tyman, is the price of parking tickets.
In the 2008, Miami University Campus Transportation Study, researchers compared Miami’s campus geography to both Cornell University and the University of Colorado Boulder. According to both school’s parking services, Miami charges more than double for the same violation.
At Cornell, a permit violation results in a $35 fine and at UC Boulder, a $30 fine, while the same violation at Miami costs $75.
Sophomore Ben Drellishak has suffered these high fines five times.
“It is hard for me to understand why students are fined so severely, especially when tuition is so high,” he said. “I don’t know why it’s necessary to charge so much.”
Drellishak said most of his tickets stemmed from his temporarily parking in a space that his permit did not cover.
The new meters at Shriver and elsewhere will, according to Tyman, help remedy this, accommodating people who may only be visiting the building for a short time.
“If there is a meter, you do not need a pass and you can use the meter any time of the day,” Tyman said. “During normal school hours, you can park for up to an hour.”
However, according to David Prytherch, professor of geography and planning and former sustainability coordinator for Miami, short-term parking is not the purpose of Miami’s campus.
“Our campus was not designed for being able to zip onto campus, run an errand and leave,” Prytherch said. “It’s a walking campus and it never has been and never will be easy to drive and park on.”
The trouble, Prytherch said, is that people are not used to alternative methods of transportation.
“It’s a learning process and people are used to driving their cars,” he said. “They come from suburban environments where they are driving their cars everywhere from the minute they turn 16, and they come to campus expecting things to be the same way.”
A university campus transportation study identified 43 percent of commuters living within one mile of King Library choose to drive to campus rather than walk, bike, take the bus or seek another method of transportation.
This, Prytherch and Tyman agreed, would result in too many cars.
“From a planning point of view, we have too much congestion, too many vehicular trips, and that creates incredible public safety hazards and we are not likely to widen the roads, so the best thing to do is to reduce the number of cars on campus,” Prytherch said.
Tyman echoed that sentiment.
“I think Miami is a beautiful campus, and I don’t know if we need too many cars on campus,” he said. “If we had less students driving on campus, it would be good, if we had less cars on campus, it would be good.”
According to Prytherch, from his standpoint as a planning expert, Miami is beginning to change the way it views transportation and is attempting to change the driving culture
“I think that the way Miami is planning right now is very 21st century and very progressive, and those plans are starting to bear fruit,” Prytherch said. “The university has begun to rethink transportation to deemphasize vehicles and vehicular travel to make other options more attractive.”
The one flaw in Miami’s planning thus far, according to Prytherch, is the low price of a parking permit. A yellow pass, which allows parking in holding lots, such as Ditmer and Millet, costs $110 for a full year, while a blue pass is $220. Blue passes allow parking in student areas.
“Parking is a market-based good; it follows the law of supply and demand,” Prytherch said. “If you give something away cheaply, people use a lot of it and the result is that parking has been cheap and easy so people drive when they could be using some other option and the result of that is incredible congestion.”
“Maybe if you charged a little bit more, you would take a step back and think, ‘do I really need this?’ And that is what I would like to see, that people think a little more about it,” he said.
Miami is pushing a shift away from driving and toward other methods of transportation.
“The ideal is that we trade off some of that convenience in being able to zip around for other goods, like greater safety for pedestrians, less pollution, a prettier campus,” Prytherch said.