Inside Iowa State
Feb. 23, 1996
Consultants: Shuttle drivers
Employees, students would give each other parking priority
by Anne Dolan
A parking ramp and expanded shuttle service that encourages more employees to park in lots south of central campus are among the options recommended by consultants hired last fall to assess parking problems at Iowa State.
The recommendations, delivered to an ad hoc parking committee earlier this month, were based on surveys of faculty, staff and students, and lot counts done in September 1995.
ISU officials had asked Rich and Associates, Southfield, Mich., to suggest strategies to improve parking for visitors and students.
"There were no surprises in the report. It very succinctly tells us what needs to be done, most of which we have known for quite some time," said Loras Jaeger, director of the department of public safety and a member of the committee overseeing the parking study.
"The issue is cost," he added. "Are people willing to pay for convenience? It's going to take a significant increase in revenues to improve parking services for students and visitors, while maintaining the level of service faculty and staff have."
A final report from Rich and Associates is expected by March 1. Members of the firm have been invited to campus in early March to discuss recommendations with university audiences. A schedule of those sessions will be published in Inside Iowa State.
The consultants suggested two plans for a 500- to 600-stall parking ramp: a multi-level ramp constructed into the hill south of Alumni Hall and an L-shaped ramp that wraps around the northwest corner of the Armory. The ramps would cost an estimated $5.3 million and $8 million, respectively. Without a large cash outlay up front, the consultants estimated parking rates across the system would have to be raised 50 to 100 percent to retire the annual debt on a parking ramp.
However, the consultants' preferred solution is to expand shuttle service between central campus and the Iowa State Center lots, with the intent of convincing as many as 650 more faculty and staff to use center lots. At a cost of about $79,000 annually, this option would free lot spaces centrally for visitors and students.
The consultants discouraged offering shuttle service from central campus to both the Iowa State Center lots and remote lots north of campus. Shuttling to both areas would make less efficient use of buses and increase the wait time between shuttles, they said.
The consultants disregarded a third option, building more surface lots on central campus, because of the university's commitment in the campus master plan to preserving green space.
The study concluded that Iowa State actually has a surplus of parking space. However, some of the largest lots are on the periphery of campus or at the Iowa State Center and deemed undesirable spots by many campus drivers.
In spite of their reluctance to park a considerable distance from their destinations, faculty, staff and students all acknowledged they may need to adjust.
More than 80 percent of faculty and staff surveyed last fall said students or students and visitors should receive highest parking priority. Students said faculty should have the highest priority, due to their status on campus and because they had "paid their dues."
Other recommendations to improve parking service are to design and implement uniform signage for all lots on campus and stop issuing new 24-hour reserve permits on central campus.
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