As an adult student at UTC, I would like to point out the disastrous parking situation down there. I saw on the front page of the paper the first day classes started back about how enrollment was up 2,000 students since 2010. Every semester, I think it cannot possibly get any worse.
Wrong. Every day this week, I have had to leave my job an hour and a half early to drive around the campus for 45 minutes to an hour looking for a spot. Hundreds of hostile drivers are left with about three inches of room on each side to maneuver around the general lots.
There are no signs for the flow of traffic. Instead, everyone is franticly trying to make it to class, driving head on in the same directions causing utter chaos and congestion. Oh, and did I mention that you have to pay $110 for a general parking pass? And don’t even think about parking the in the wrong spot. That’s another fine from UTC.
All UTC has said about this is they are “aware of the problem”. They have cleverly suggested that, after paying over $100 per decal, that we park somewhere else downtown and take a bus there, or allow plenty of time. Is an hour not enough time of driving in circles? This is making people paying a fortune to miss class and any quizzes or test that are given during the first part of class. Some professors do not even allow students to come in late without publicly being critical of them.
UTC responds by saying park at Engel Stadium or take the bus. But the point is, why are you selling all of these passes when there are no spots? They never stop selling general passes at $110 each. And now, even those that pay a lot more with reserved passes cannot necessarily find a spot. A reserved spot is suppose to guarantee a place in a certain lot.
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Dear Susannah Ferguson,
I, too, am an adult student at UTC. I bought for a little over $250 a parking permit that was supposed to allow me to park in lot 26 (reserved). Last fall and this fall, I have not been able to park in that lot. It took three weeks to finally get a spot there last fall. So far this fall, I have had no luck. When the parking department is contacted, they respond saying that they don’t issue tickets for a few weeks each semester.
Why? Is it to lure people into getting comfortable parking in a lot then gaining revenue by ticketing them? UTC does have a bad habit of overselling lots. They say that they do not sell more permits (reserved parking) than the spaces they have, but that is a bold faced lie. When, in the middle of a semester, I cannot find a parking space in my reserved lot, there is a problem.
I think the leadership of UTC should be called to act. Not only do students suffer, staff have to buy their parking permits and go through what we students have to go through.
If there is some way of forcing the leadership of UTC to address the situation, I would gladly help.
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There is a solution to this problem. Turn the parking over to Republic. That was easy.
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There are no easy solutions to UTC's parking problems. I am a faculty member and serve on the committee that advises the University administration on parking policies. I am also a reserved lot (10) decal holder, and almost every day this week I had to circle the lot several times before finally locating a spot.
Perhaps the most significant problem is that UTC is a "landlocked" campus in the middle of a developed portion of a city - not a land-grant institution in the middle of pasture lands that can easily be paved over to add capacity. There will be no additions of large surface parking lots anywhere near our academic buildings. There is only one way to go to add parking on campus, and that is up.
Parking garages are needed in order to provide additional parking capacity. However, parking garages are extremely expensive to build. The most recent estimates presented to our committee were in the neighborhood of $10,000 per space - and the costs are only increasing with time. That means that a 1,000-space parking garage (which wouldn't really solve the problem, though it would help) could cost $10 million or more.
What many people (including students and employees) do not know is that parking at UTC is a completely self-sustaining entity. The University is legally prevented from supplementing parking revenues out of the general fund. The only money that comes in is from decal sales and parking fines. From that revenue, existing lots must be maintained (they need repaving and restriping periodically) and only what is left over can be used to build new lots.
Everyone screams when parking rates go up (I admit to being no exception). However, existing revenue is insufficient to support the debt service on a large, new parking garage(s). The only way to add significant capacity is to significantly increase the cost of decals and/or tickets. No one wants that, but no one wants to go without a space, either.
As I said before, there are no easy solutions. But I (and the rest of the committee) certainly welcome thoughtful suggestions.
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I attended UTC for several years part-time and can attest to the truth of each letter-writer's message. During certain times (notably 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and often other times) student parking is impossible to find.
I was incensed by purchasing a parking pass, then rarely being able to park in the area for that pass. When in frustration I parked elsewhere I was ticketed with an overly-hefty fine.
This poorly administrated aspect leaves a bad taste in our mouths that belies the fact that UTC is an excellent place to go to school- the professors are knowledgeable and friendly, the cafeteria is astoundingly good, the student activities center is great, and the library employees are helpful.
Dr. Dumas very eloquently articulated why parking is an ongoing frustration, but there are a few things the administration can do. First, don't oversell lots. Second, narrow the spaces in some lots and make them compact-car-only. Third, offer seasonal parking in the multistory lot across from the roundhouse (this may already be available). Fourth, don't issue ridiculously expensive parking tickets with explicit or implied threats. Fifth, run a free shuttle bus for students and university employees that loops through downtown, crosses to the north Chattanooga commercial area, and then drops people off at a central campus locale on the hour. Also, perhaps UTC can offer more classes in the evenings and summers, when parking is not so scant. The summer class schedule was disappointingly lean.
Gary Furman. M.B.A. 1996
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I understand the need for funds. The problem is that the university is selling something they do not actually possess. There should be no more permits sold than the capacity to provide space.
Perhaps Republic can build and operate a massive parking garage on or near campus.
I am not a student, but am a frequent visitor.