As Binghamton University returns to in-person classes, frustration has been spreading among students and faculty alike as the University experiences new parking woes.
Starting with the 2021-2022 academic year, the University has increased student permit sales by an additional 856 commuter passes and 79 resident passes, compared to two years ago. Despite this, the University sold 180 less passes to faculty/staff. The tighter parking availability has been further exacerbated by a 30 percent decrease in Off Campus College Transportation (OCCT) compared to the previous academic year.
While the University administration and Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) acknowledge main campus parking will be tougher compared to previous years, Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations, said there are always available spots, even during peak hours, in lots E1, G1 and ZZ, behind the East Gym, West Gym and Hillside Community, respectively.
“As we return to campus for an in-person academic year, [TAPS] reminds the campus community that parking on campus will be much tighter than it was during the 2020-2021 academic year,” Yarosh wrote in an email. “There is always available space, but it is not always right next to a destination. [TAPS] has been closely monitoring lot availability and updating the TAPS website with which parking lots have available space during peak times on campus.”
Yarosh mentioned TAPS has no plans to cap permit sales, claiming there are around 75 spots available in each lot during peak hours.
However, a BU professor who wished to remain anonymous had to cancel class due to the lack of close parking spots on-campus, after being forced to park at the United Health Services (UHS) parking across the BU main entrance. The professor mentioned that faculty have brought up issues of parking to the University for a few years and suspected this year would be much worse compared to previous years.
The professor said the University should model campus parking after other SUNY schools.
“I know there are things [SUNYs] do differently than us in terms of allocating spots,” the anonymous source said. “[SUNY] is under the same union regulations, so it simply comes down to if other schools are doing things better there, we should [apply] what they are doing that is preventing this parking shortage.”
Douglas Fuchs, a senior majoring in accounting, believes asking students to park far away from classes is unrealistic and mentioned he has trouble finding spots even in lots E1 and G1 during peak hours.
“The parking on campus is absolutely ridiculous,” Fuchs said. “The fact that we all pay for spots and cannot even get a spot without driving around for 20 minutes waiting for someone to pull out is absurd. I do not know how they sell this many passes with the knowledge they would not be able to fit everyone.”
The parking shortage expands into the University Downtown Center (UDC), home of the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) as well. John Mancusi, a senior double-majoring in history and business administration, struggles to get parking for his class in Downtown Binghamton.
“The main issue is that about half the parking is reserved for teachers and half is reserved for students,” Mancusi said. “It is so difficult to find a spot in the student section so one time I parked in the teachers’ section, where there were virtually no cars. I almost immediately received a ticket. Parking on campus has been so bad, but I just arrive early in the morning and stay all day to guarantee a spot.”
Caroline Sandleitner, BU Council student representative and a first-year graduate student studying public administration, spoke about the parking shortage during the Sept. 10 BU Council meeting and plans to be proactive with the University about fixing the issue, or at remedying it, before the winter comes.
“Moving forward from this point, I plan to speak with the administration about updating the ‘live update’ website more frequently to reflect where parking is available at any given time,” Sandleiner wrote in an email. “It takes time for students, faculty and staff to naturally adjust to new traffic patterns, but I could see a need for more frequent and direct pickups from the campus shuttles to help transport students from more peripheral lots.”
Sandleitner concluded that while the parking shortage still persists, students can do their part in reducing car usage by taking public transportation to and from campus.
“Students should encourage one another to utilize the OCCT bus system when possible, or carpool to classes to reduce traffic on and off campus,” Sandleitner wrote. “Even if one out of three students carpool once a week, that would dramatically improve the parking situation and would require equally as much or less time for students to get to class.”