UGA faculty and staff wishing to park on campus now have a new option.
E23, the new park and ride lot at the corner of College Station and North Oconee Access roads, will be open this semester at a cost of $10 per month.
Campus Transit will provide bus shuttle service between the lot and campus approximately every 15 minutes during the regular hours of bus operation and approximately every 30 minutes when buses are on summer and intersession schedules with the first bus leaving at 6:55 a.m. E23 will be a staff priority lot, and permits will be provided according to the priority system. In the near future, the Athens-Clarke County Greenway project will add a non-vehicular bridge connecting this area to East Campus, near the Performing Arts Center.
“We believe this is going to work out well,” said Don Walter, director of Transportation and Parking Services and interim associate director of Auxiliary Services. “We’re trying to reduce traffic while at the same time providing access for people to come to campus.”
E23 will open with 150 spaces and will expand to 850 spaces in three years. Consultants were brought in to evaluate transportation around campus, and the location was chosen, in part, because 37 percent of those who drive to campus enter via College Station Road.
“We hope that this lot is convenient,” Walter said. “It should be an easy in and easy out—you don’t have to drive through traffic on campus.”
Plans also are underway to include a 350-space parking deck under the future STEM building in central campus south of the corner at East Campus Road and Cedar Street.
Permits and fees
UGA has been diligent in keeping parking fees the same for the last 10 years, which Walter said is “pretty incredible. While a number of other universities have increased parking fees over this same period and with another peer recently announcing a significant increase to its fees, we are pleased that we have been able to keep our fees flat for the last 10 years.”
According to TPS, 70 percent of faculty and staff have parking permits, and 35 percent of students have them. The fees collected from those permits help offset the cost of maintenance and improvements for parking lots and decks. A priority system was created in 2002 that allowed for designated parking in a permitted area. This helped reduce traffic around campus and provided faculty and staff with the flexibility to choose their parking area based on a balance of proximity to their destination and cost. The algorithm used to determine priority was created by a UGA mathematics professor.
Parking fees are $10, $20, $30 or $40 per month and are based on the lot’s proximity to the core of campus. Faculty and staff who prefer not to purchase a permit may ride the Athens Transit bus for free with their ID card.
In addition to income from permit fees, TPS also looks to the non-campus community, such as selling parking spaces for home football games, including the East Campus deck and lots E11 and E03. Those funds, along with other parking revenues are reinvested in a variety of ways.
Maintenance and safety of parking lots and decks are a top priority, with annual investments toward maintenance of lots, such as sealcoating, paving and striping. The 11 decks at UGA also are inspected by a structural engineer every year, and TPS funds the costs of the recommended maintenance from reserves.
To maintain lower rates, while still providing campus added value, TPS is testing low-cost options for enhancements, such as the upcoming addition of space counting systems in all decks (see story). Drivers will be able to see that information on a display outside the decks or in an app being developed with EITS. Not only does this save drivers time and stress, but it also cuts down on emissions because it helps eliminate the need to drive around to find a parking spot.
Parking fees go toward other environmental- and cost-friendly efforts, as well. TPS has installed energy-efficient LED lighting in all decks and is converting lots to gateless and “virtual permit” systems that are based on license plates. In addition, TPS recently received a multimillion dollar grant to procure a significant number of fully electric, zero-emission buses that will be less expensive to maintain than UGA’s fleet of diesel buses.
TPS also offers an Alternative Transportation Program for those who choose bus, car pool, bike, walk or motorcycle, scooter/moped as their primary means of transportation. These faculty, staff and students may qualify for an ATP permit that allows deck parking on one or two days per month (except August) to use on rainy days or as otherwise needed. Parking fees also support the Motorist Assistance Program, available from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays. The services, which are available at no additional cost to users, include jump-starts of batteries, search (if you forget where you parked), lights-on notices and assistance or directions for campus events. For assistance, call 706-542-7275.
“We’re constantly looking to improve the services we provide and to become more efficient,” Walter said.