By Sebastian Moronta, Staff Writer
Since September, Parking & Transportation has conducted a comprehensive study of parking on campus, carefully studying all facets of the issue.
This comes in response to growing concerns over an aging parking infrastructure, and administrators aim to address most if not all those concerns when the study is concluded in March, with the hope of implementing changes for the fall.
This campus presents natural challenges for parking. A large commuter population, combined student and faculty lots, high density housing developments like the Woodlands, and others that are far away from the center of campus like the Dells.
The current parking system attempts to address these issues with restrictive zoning policies, among other things, but administration initiated this study to try to identify more creative solutions to build on the current system.
To date, the study has focused on gathering as many opinions as possible from the various demographics on campus, as well as collecting figures on the current state of the system. Since the fall, parking has conducted Open Forums in the Dells, Woodlands, and the Frederick Douglass Unity House, as well as met with the SGA, GSS, DPS, Residential Assistance, and faculty unions, to gather input.
To help with the figures the school hired VHB, an independent consulting firm, to do an intensive study during the month of October to collect data on how many cars come on and off campus, how many occupy the lots at various times of the day, and other general figures. The firm studied the campus for over two weeks, and presented their findings to be included in the final report.
The majority of decisions on parking will be made after the conclusion of the study, however Parking and Transportation are rolling changes out for next semester that will lead into the more robust changes in the fall. The changes for the spring focus on ticketing: the school will be implementing a License Plate Recognition System (LPRS) in DPS vehicles.
This system would allow DPS officers to drive through lots scanning license plates as they pass by, referencing a database holding all registered decal holders and ticketing those who aren’t. The process is entirely automatic, and will replace the time-intensive hand-ticketing currently employed by DPS. Due to the automation, ticketing rates are expected to rise.
Ticket fines will also see changes. After comparing UMassD fine rates with that of sister schools like Boston, Lowell, and Amherst, as well as schools in the region like Bridgewater State, Parking learned our rates were dramatically lower across the board.
As a result, fines will rise. Most infractions will now incur a fine of thirty dollars, while parking in a handicap spot will now run a charge of one hundred dollars, up from the current fifty dollar fine. It is worthwhile to note that even with these fine increases, Dartmouth rates are still way below the average of other schools in the region.
As a result, Parking and Transportation urges students who haven’t yet purchased a parking decal to purchase one before or at the beginning of the spring semester to avoid costly fines. Parking does offer a single-semester pass, at half the cost of the full year’s decal.