Yesterday, in honor of Earth Day, I did something I've been dying to do for some time."Good intentions score big, good actions score bigger"–Mark Fischetti, Scientific American
I told Commuter Services to stick it!
Actually, that's an over statement. I called them up and politely cancelled my parking pass. Although Earth Day provided some motivation, the cancellation was the result of several factors, not all environmental. Depending on your situation, you might be able to do it too. Skip to item 4 if you don't want the back story.
I've always been a multimode commuter. For many years this involved biking in the summers and driving in the winters. I was never a bus fan primarily because I found it so inconvenient, but circumstances have changed and the bus has become my primary mode of commuting. Here's why.
1. The development of smart phones and bus-tracking apps. I no longer waste time at the bus stop. I get ready to go to work, fire up a bus tracking app (I use UTA tracker), and then do something productive until the bus is a couple blocks away. During the winter, I don't stand outside freezing.
2. Campus construction. Have you driven to campus lately? It's an unmitigated disaster! New buildings going up everywhere. Parking lots torn up left and right. My bus stop is actually a couple of minutes closer to my office than any of the available lots and, if the close ones are full, it's five minutes closer. The bottom line here is that items 1 and 2 make the bus is almost as fast as driving, although I have a short commute and a fairly reliable bus line.
3. The Northwest Parking Garage. This is the 350 stall monstrosity that they are constructing on 100 South just west of the Sutton Building.
The U talks a pretty good game about sustainability, but we have a long ways to go until we are committed to a less car-intensive future. My disgust with this project has made it even easier not to drive to campus. Further, if I want to park in the garage when it's done, I have to upgrade to a $870 T permit. Nada. Not going to happen. I guess that's one way to financially incentivize the use of mass transit, but it's a pity they couldn't do it without building the garage.
4. The availability of day passes. Nearly all of us need to drive to campus from time to time. Encouraging more mixed-mode commuting is one way to reduce the demand for parking and traffic on campus and Commuter Services now has a day parking pass option on its web site! I don't know when this appeared and it's very hard to find. In fact, it doesn't appear explicitly under the "Parking on Campus" drop down menu on their main page, on the Parking Permits FAQ page, on the Faculty/Staff Permits Page, or on the Student Permits Page. Basically, if you don't know about this option, you have no hope of finding it. Call me paranoid, but one has to wonder if they really want to promote it.
In any event, here's what you need to do. Go to their online parking portal and click on "purchase permits." Login and keep boring into the pages. Eventually you'll get to a page entitled "select permit and permit agreement" and lo-and-behold, there they are. Half and full day rates. Sweet!
If you are or are considering mixed mode commuting with only infrequent parking on campus, temporary full and half day passes are available on the commuter services web site. You may be able to axe your parking pass.
Unfortunately, it's not immediately obvious how to do this on the Commuter Services web site and the need to login to a web page and buy a permit each time seems overly cumbersome. What is ultimately needed is either a smart-phone app that one can just tap once or twice to buy the permit upon arriving on campus OR a system in which you sign up and their automated license plate scanning system simply dings you everytime it scans your plate.
For students, I'm not sure what's available, but think you are constrained to the $115 U permit, so your savings going this route might be minimal unless you drive very infrequently.