Cheap, Convenient, Plentiful: Parking Can Never Be All Three

I serve on the University of Utah‘s Parking and Transportation Advisory Committee.  We met today to decide on a proposal to increase parking fees at metered parking spaces and at pay lots, where drivers pay by the hour.  The problem is there is not enough parking available on campus for visitors.  A large part of the problem is that too many students and employees, who despite having permits for the permit lots, are choosing to pay to park in visitor lots as it is cheap and convenient to campus.

As explained by Alma Allred, Director of Commuter Services, there are three conflicting dimensions to parking: cheap, convenient, plentiful.  If parking is in demand, only two of the three can ever be satisfied simultaneously.  If parking is cheap and convenient, it will not be plentiful.  If parking is cheap and plentiful, it will not be convenient.  If parking is convenient and plentiful, it will not be cheap.

The University of Utah has many visitors coming to campus daily.  The bookstore, the library, colleges and departments, etc. can offer validations to visitors, so that they don’t have to pay in the pay lots.  (Those entities are able to purchase validations from Commuter Services for $0.75 each.)  The problem is that since parking in pay lots is cheap and convenient for students and employees, it cannot be plentiful for visitors.  The goal we are striving for is to have convenient and plentiful parking for visitors, which means that it cannot be cheap for students and employees.

The proposal is detailed in the PDF below, which is not yet set in stone.  Of course the University of Utah continues to offer the UCard, which gives virtually all students and employees unlimited rides on the buses (except for ski buses), TRAX light rail, and FrontRunner commuter rail of the Utah Transit Authority.