Why Clemson's Parking and Transportation System should be revamped
Ever since its founding in 1889, Clemson University has been a place loved by all. With its beautiful rolling hills, orange and purple sunsets, and scenic campus, you would think it's close to perfect. However, as Hannah Montana says, "Nobody's perfect," and Clemson is no exception...
Clemson's fatal flaw is its parking and transportation system.
Everyone has seen those perfectly picturesque postcards you receive in the mail that advertise the lovely scenery of Clemson. Clemson tour guides advertise its 'walkability' and college town atmosphere, with no parking garages or city traffic that you would experience at other schools.
But when you become more and more familiar with Clemson, you realize that you see very few parking lots on the main drag of campus.
And that's when reality hits. Where do the 23,000+ students park their cars? Yes, some may not own a car, but surely the ones who do have to park their car somewhere? Maybe, you think, there's an underground parking lot of some sort? Or maybe one of these beautiful buildings is just a disguise for a parking garage?
Nope. In reality, the students have to park their cars in limited metered spots and commuter green spots if they live off campus and drive to school each and every day. And if they live on campus, they have to take a 10 to 15 minute hike up and down two steep hills to the far-away parking lot.
And since we're now a well-known school with a national championship title, state-of-the-art facilities, and much more to offer, why shouldn't we have a better parking and transportation system?
Parking at Clemson is a heavily debated topic, and we're going to talk about some of these topics more in-depth: such as green spaces, ticketing times, proximity to dorms, pricing, and Tiger Transit.
The availability of green spaces on campus is overwhelmingly limited. During the weekdays, students are not allowed to park in them; they are reserved for employees. Students are only allowed to start parking in them past 7 pm on weekdays and on weekends. And they also have to move their car out of them by 7:30 am, a lot earlier than a lot of students need to be up for classes (and they have to get up only to move it all the way to R1 or R3 and when Tiger Transit has stopped running). It seems a bit crude that the students are the ones required to pay for parking passes, yet they aren’t allowed to park in any of the actual spaces on campus. They usually have to pay if not more to park their car for brief periods of time as a result of the usual availability of the metered spots. In the horseshoe for instance, there are less than 20 green spots. The horseshoe houses over 1,000 freshman students alone, plus the girls that live in the sorority housing. Green spots should be made more available because it would not only reduce the amount of parking tickets given out, but it would also reduce the amount of traffic in the horseshoe. A lot less cars would be blocking the roads and would be out of the way in legal parking spots. Additionally, even though this might be a stretch, students would most probably be less stressed as a result of more green spaces being made available because they wouldn’t have to worry about continuously paying the meter. Imposing lighter restrictions on the times green spaces are available also could be effective when it comes to reducing the amount of parking tickets students receive daily and when it comes to reducing student stress.
The Parking Services department is always seen around campus giving out tickets, usually at the most absurd of times. Unfortunately, they fail to take into consideration that things do come up and that sometimes you make [what becomes a later costly] mistake and forget to pay your meter. We propose that ticketing times be adjusted. On a lot of other college campuses, like the University of Alabama, you’re allowed to park anywhere on campus on the weekends for FREE. While it is understood that employees need places to park, it is still unfair to the students when they are the ones penalized if they’re late to class (because they can’t find a parking spot). Employees should have more of those larger lots to park in since they usually aren’t parking for small increments of time (E parking lots). Students should not be ticketed from the hours of 6 pm to 9 am. This gives them ample amount of time to move their cars and still make it to class on time. Parking services should also be a little bit more considerate and maybe not ticket unless the parking of the car is posing imminent danger to other drivers for a sustainable period of time. And ticketing during the holiday breaks should just be completely eradicated. Campus is almost completely empty anyways.
Proximity to dorms
And oh, let’s not forget the dreaded walk to and from R1 and R3. While the walk from R3 is a bit more manageable, the walk from R1 to the horseshoe is absolutely brutal. It takes between 15-20 minutes and R1 is almost always packed. The parking services department issues more parking permits than they have spots available in R1. With the addition of more green spots, students wouldn’t have to make that trek as much and wouldn’t have to resort to parking in Redfern or the R1 extension. Students pay $148/per year for an annual parking permit to be able to park in a lot on the complete opposite side of campus. It’s the lack of convenience that is most destructive. And also, if you have outstanding tickets with parking services, you can get towed while even parked in R1. So imagine walking to R1, getting there, not being able to find your car, and then walking all the way back to your dorm to later discover your car has been towed? To get your car out of the impound lot isn’t cheap either. Depending on your amount of outstanding tickets, it can range from $180-$500 and can happen OVER and OVER again. With that said, with the designing of new dorms and new fraternity and sorority housing being planned, it is of utmost importance these architects take into consideration parking. Close proximity to dorms should be a top priority. As for now, as mentioned, Tiger Transit should run more efficiently and much more often to make the trek more bearable. The parking department not be ticketing students in R1 who had to park on the grass because there were no more spots available because THEY issued more permits than the lot could hold. Overcapacity is a huge safety concern in itself.
Clemson parking is hard enough to find, but when you have to in a metered spot, you better be ready to take out your wallet. Parking in a metered spot on campus costs $1 per hour, which may not seem like a lot, but if you park there all day for classes or meetings, you are already paying a portion of yearly parking passes. On the flip side, if you need to run into a building to turn something in or grab something from your dorm, you have to pay for an hour or you will get a ticket. I think there should be free 15-minute parking around campus where you can make quick trips into buildings so you don’t have to pay for a full hour. Or they could make an available 30-minute time charge. There are metered spots on all parts of campus, but there are only just over 400 spots. When you take into account there are over 23,000 students and over 1,200 faculty members, that leaves a lot of people without parking. You can park for free in metered spaces from 10pm to 7am the next day. If you are parking there before or after either of those times, you will get a ticket. Visitor parking is a challenge as well. A daily visitor pass will cost you $5 for a day. That is inexpensive compared to parking in a metered spot all day, however where you can park is very limited. There are designated lots where visitors can park, but they are not near anything on campus and require a bus ride to get back to campus. Weekend visitor passes are also available for purchase for $6 and you can park in unrestricted employee and student sparking spaces from Friday at 4:30pm until 7:00am Monday. I think this is the best deal that Clemson Parking services offer. I think the best solution to the parking issues would be to build parking decks. While they wouldn’t be the most attractive thing our campus has to offer, they provide a lot of parking spaces and take up less space. Game day parking difficulties are expected and cannot really be fixed. On average, 80,000 fans fill Death Valley on game day, so parking issues are to be expected.
Tiger Transit is a means of transportation on Clemson University’s campus. It runs 7 days a week, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. (Clemson University, “CU SAFETY”). Tiger Transit is “operated under the direction of the Division of Student Affairs by the Student Patrol, a student organization affiliated with the Clemson University Police Department (CUPD). Tiger Transit serves all Clemson University students, faculty, staff and visitors. For your safety and convenience, Tiger Transit drivers are pleased to provide service to and from any location on Clemson’s campus” (Clemson University,” CU SAFETY”). Tiger Transit stirs up a lot of issues on campus because there are not enough buses to handle the amount of students. Often the wait times get up to an hour long. There is now a safe ride service put in place to take people to places off of campus but they are using tiger transit buses so it is lessening the amount of vehicles for the on campus transportation making the waits longer (Clemson University, “Safe Rides Program”). A service that is supposed to keep students safe becomes an inconvenience in their day. Often students become so fed up with the inconsistency of tiger transit that they end up walking alone in the dark from the parking lots to their dorm or campus, this creates a serious safety hazard.
There are safety hazards when students cannot get a ride on tiger transit and must walk back to their dorm in the dark from parking lots. Also often times when students are leaving the library late they want a ride from tiger transit but the wait is too long and they must walk back alone. Something that is supposed to make getting around campus at night actually becomes a hassle because you must request a ride and sometimes wait six times as long as it would take to walk.
There are multiple solutions to both of these problems. Adding metered spots would increase the ability for students to park near their classes and the library and allow for safer transportation to and from classes and the library at night. Even though people don’t always want to pay they would if it meant students could park on campus all day and at night. A parking garage would be a big game changer for students because it would provide a lot of parking and if it was centrally located on campus people could get around on campus without worrying about walking to their car later. One thing Clemson does that causes these problems is they pass out too many parking passes and so there is too many cars for the amount of spots available, if they did not pass out as many parking passes this problem would be solved immediately.
In terms of a counterargument:
According to the Clemson Parking and Transportation Services website, "Satisfaction with the convenience of parking on campus stems from expectations. If you expect "convenient parking" where everyone parks at the door to his or her destination, Clemson’s parking will disappoint you. If, however, you are familiar with urban or campus parking environments, parking at Clemson compares favorably with most cities and universities because destinations are within a ten minute walk or bus ride and parking fees are reasonable." https://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/parking/faq.html
But why shouldn't our nationally ranked school be a little more convenient? If the parking and transportation system here at Clemson rakes in so much revenue from our metered spot fees and parking passes and parking tickets, we believe that some of the profits should be put towards creating a parking garage in the old Harcombe building and disguising it with attractive architecture.
If this is not feasible, then at least the revenue from parking should be put towards improving Tiger Transit by hiring more drivers and increasing the hours that Tiger Transit is available so that the trek to the parking lot is more bearable. Additionally, adding more metered spots and handing out the adequate number of parking passes would help parking issues as well.