Between a walk and a hard place

Grace Cowger | Mercury Staff

Effective after Aug. 31, green parking permit spaces in all three parking garages on campus will no longer be available to those with a green parking pass, and instead only accessible to those with a gold parking pass or higher.

Starting mid-July, UTD Parking and Transportation began painting over green parking permit spaces in garages and lots across campus. Until Aug. 31, students with green parking can park in the spaces that were previously green in the garage. Due to planned construction such as with the Athenaeum and potential building expansions to JSOM and the McDermott Library, which will cause the loss of a projected 946 gold and orange parking spaces, green lots are being painted over with gold to make up for the lost spots and ensure premium parking spots remain close to campus. The higher costs may partially be due to debt accumulated by building parking garages, which could take around 30 years to pay off. Green parking spaces will still be available about a half a mile away from campus, or alternatively, students can upgrade to gold, which costs $303 for September to August, or orange, which costs $466 for September to August, to remain in the parking garages.

Oluwasweun Adeyemi | Mercury Staff

“That was a decision that we didn’t take lightly … I reached out to my peers throughout different universities to help me figure this out, and they told me, ‘Look, we don’t have green … our [parking] garages are premium.’,” Cris Aquino, director of Parking and Transportation, said in a Staff Council meeting held on Aug. 9. “When you pay for parking, you pay for convenience for the most part … when you pay more, you get to park closer.”

For a long time, those with green permits, the cheapest parking permit at $169 for September to August, could manage to find a spot on the top floors of PS1, PS3 and PS4. While staff and students are impacted by this change, visitors will also have to approach parking differently. Individuals who visit UTD can purchase a one-day green parking pass, but now they will have to walk further to get to their destination.

“I always noticed sometimes when parking last year, that some of the paint would fade and below it would reveal that a [gold] spot now used to be green, or an orange spot now used to be [gold],” finance sophomore Finlay Gaskins said. “It upsets me a bit and it feels like a school that has so many commuters should be more providing when it comes to parking spots.”

Aquino said that though the decision has not been made yet, it is possible to bring Comet Cab routes to green parking lots, allowing students to take the cabs to the center of campus during certain times of day.

“I still do think that people who pay the extremely high prices as is for green parking deserve to be able to access the buildings that already exist on campus without having to walk even further than they already do,” Peyton Lawrence, senior ATEC major and three-year long commuter, said.

Outside of permit changes in the garages, UTD parking and transportation are making a series of other upgrades and changes. The 883 East Comet Cruiser Shuttle, in partnership with DART, will now run at 15-minute intervals instead of 30, from Monday to Friday until Dec. 20. Though the additional cost per semester to run the shuttle is $245,000, according to Aquino, DART and UTD will split the expenses 50/50. The decision to increase the frequency of the shuttle stemmed from the steady increase in ridership, which went from 688,882 in 2022 to 1,091,497 in 2023.

Additionally, six new vehicles have been added to the Comet Cab service’s fleet, which is available free of charge to students, faculty, staff and visitors who are unable to walk across campus. A second wheelchair accessible vehicle has also been added, along with new shades for all vehicles in case of rough weather. Currently, the Comet Cab service averages over 300 trips per month.

Lastly, Parking and Transportation has installed five new smart electric vehicle charging stations across PS1 and PS3. Each charger has two ports each, and the current proposed fee for their use is $0.03 per minute or $1.80 per hour starting Sept. 1. Older electric vehicle stations are being replaced with the new smart stations.

The Mercury will continue to investigate the reasoning behind UTD’s apparent parking debt and sudden changes to permits and lots. Stay tuned for our future issues.

Parking structure maintenance costs, excluding debt service payments.

PS1: 750 spaces

  • $44,000 annually

PS3: 750 spaces

  • $73,399 annually

PS4: 1,150 spaces

  • $50,426 annually

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