Transportation Services accommodates growth

UNT continues to break enrollment records – this year was no different with nearly 38,000 students – and focus on ensuring that students’ needs are met by expanding academic and student support infrastructure. The growth is welcome, says Transportation Services Director Geary Robinson, though it has created a need for reconfiguration of transportation and parking resources.

Two projects on the horizon for Spring 2017 that also will affect parking are the construction of a new College of Visual Arts and Design building and a new residence hall next to Kerr Hall.

A second art building will allow the college to consolidate its classes and labs into one location, with the two buildings side-by-side and Oak Street Hall just down the street from them. Currently, art classes are spread out among four buildings on campus. The consolidation will open up space for other academic use on campus, give UNT and the greater community a central location for exhibitions and art activities, and provide updated facilities for art and design students. This project will require the closure of Lot 50, a Faculty/Staff parking lot directly behind the current art building, where the new building will be built and part of the parking lot will be used as a construction staging area.

The new residence hall next to Kerr Hall will allow the university to continue to offer affordable housing to students in a location that is the most convenient – right on campus. Construction of this hall will require the closure of Lot 31 between Kerr Hall and Eagle Drive, where the new building will be built and part of the parking lot will be used as a construction staging area.

With construction starting after finals this December, Robinson and his staff are working to help the UNT community with parking and transportation needs. Robinson discussed some of the upcoming plans and how faculty and staff can partner with Transportation Services as the university continues to grow.

What are your recommendations and resources for faculty and staff?

Robinson: We want to cause as little disruption as possible to the faculty and staff who park in Lot 50. Those permit holders will still find nearby parking . The Highland Street Garage rate will be temporarily reduced from $850 to $405 for faculty and staff. We are prorating this rate to include what the current F/S permit holders are paying for their current year permit.  Our purpose in doing this is to not have to move students out of Lot 54 or 55 for the Spring 2017 semester.  ADA parking (Americans with Disabilities Act) and A permit spaces will be moved from lot 50 to the surface lot in front of the Union Circle Garage.

F/S permit holders may find parking a bit easier in other lots designated for those permits only. A full map of lots can be found online. We recommend that until permit holders know for sure how the new parking arrangements will affect their schedules, they give themselves a bit more time to get to work and they should become familiar with the shuttle routes that offer easy transportation around campus.

F/S permit holders also can access the Highland Street garage for an additional $180. This choice would increase your payroll deduction from $18.75 per month to $45 per month beginning Dec. 1, 2016. If you add this feature, will see that change in your January pay check. Essentially, this gives access to park in the garage for about $1.50 a day over the next 9 months. There are 325 open parking spaces available in the Highland Street Garage. To add this feature, bring your F/S permit to the Transportation Services Office and staff will make the adjustment for you. Also, if you have a North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) toll tag, you can use that to access the garage.

Starting in the spring semester, we will have a tracking system online so UNT community members can see where the shuttles are and better gauge arrival times.

In order to keep parking flexible after hours, anyone with a UNT parking permit can park in any Eagle or F/S lot between 5:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. weekdays and weekends from 5:30 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Monday.

What are your recommendations and resources for students?

Robinson: We have a few suggestions and two new major resources for students.

Similar to what we recommend for faculty/staff, we encourage students to become familiar with the Eagle lots on campus – including the lots near Victory Hall. Even though those are located on the western edge of campus, you can easily get in and out of the parking lot that consistently has about 500 open spaces. We have also increased the number of shuttles to that lot.

A full map of lots can be found online. For those using the Victory Hall parking lots we recommend that, until permit holders become familiar with those shuttle routes, they give themselves roughly 40 minutes or more before the start of their class to park and get to campus. Starting in the spring semester, we will have a tracking system online so the UNT community can see where the shuttles are and better gauge arrival times.

New this spring for those who only come to campus a few times each semester, you can forgo buying a permit and instead use ParkMobile. This service allows you to pay hourly by an app on your smartphone. You can even get a reminder when your time is about to expire so you can add more time while in class or at the library.

Also new in the spring, students will be able to rent a Zipcar. There will be two located by Crumley Hall and two located in the Union Circle Garage. This is especially helpful for residence hall students who don’t have their own cars or those who don’t want to lose their parking spots. More information on that will be distributed in January.

How can students, faculty and staff partner with Transportation Services?

Robinson: We encourage the UNT community to keep up with the new resources and plans from Transportation Services. As we head into 2017, we will look at adding new parking lots on the western edge of campus.

A recent study commissioned by Transportation Services noted that, with UNT’s focus on sustainability, the community would likely benefit from carpooling and bicycling initiatives, so we will continue to look into those and encourage our community to explore those options.

As most people on campus know, Transportation Services receives no money from student tuition or fees. Maintenance for parking garages and lots and for shuttle maintenance comes from parking permit sales. Expansion and new resources can be quite expensive – a new parking garage costs roughly $20 million and a new bus costs almost $500,000. We are exploring all options for the future, but we do appreciate feedback and understanding as the university continues to grow.

How can the UNT community keep in touch with your department, learn about changes or new information, and offer feedback?

Robinson: We welcome your ideas and feedback through social media. You can find us on Twitter @UNTtransit or on Facebook @UNTtransportation. Starting with the spring semester, we are planning to speak at various group meetings and may have some community-wide events to allow for feedback as well.

We also encourage you to keep in touch with your student, faculty or staff representative on the Transportation Advisory Committee. Those representatives are on our committee to communicate your ideas, concerns and comments. They are: presidents of the Faculty and Staff Senates, presidents and vice presidents of the Graduate Student Council and Student Government Association, the chief of police, the Housing director and the Transportation Services director. 

We also welcome visitors to our office on the first floor of the Highland Street Garage and encourage you to view our website to see if the information you need is there. The purchase of permits, visitor’s permits, contact information, citation payments, e-Ride information and more can be found on the website.