In response to concerns, Mason suspends sale of general permits

Parking on campus was busier this year than previous years.
Parking on campus was busier this year than previous years.

Last Thursday, Sept. 5, Parking Services at George Mason University made the call to stop the sale of general permit passes in an attempt to contain the demand for parking; something they have never done before.

Josh Cantor, director of Parking Services at Mason, said that parking on campus was busier this year than previous years.

“I think the last time we felt this busy the first two weeks probably was back to around 2007,” Cantor said in reference to the Rappahannock construction that occurred in 2007

The high traffic is what led to the decision to stop selling general permits, but Cantor reassures students there are still other options.

“We still have permits available for Lot I, Lot J, Rappahannock Deck reserved, which are the upper levels for students, and we still have a limited number for the Shenandoah deck,” Cantor said. While they might be more expensive options, it guarantees a student a parking space within that designated area.

Cantor has been searching for a solution on how to give the best pricing options for passes while making sure every student has a spot.

“Two things people say to us, is build more parking and make parking less expensive. Well the more we build, the more expensive it is.” Cantor said, adding  that it is easier to try and use what the campus already has in a more efficient way, which brought about zoned parking.

Lot J, Lot M and the parking decks are being designated as zoned parking. Ultimately, Parking Services hopes to make more zoned parking with pricing dependent on proximity to campus.

Despite the increasing flow of traffic this year, some of the new initiatives Parking Services has implemented have been successful. When asked about the carpool lane in Lot A, Cantor had great feedback.

“We initially started off with about 30 spaces, and by early last week we were filling that section by 10 to 10:15 a.m., so we expanded that section. By encouraging carpooling, we’re lessening the amount of cars coming to campus, so even if you aren’t carpooling, it’s less competition for a space,” Cantor said. It also has benefits such as splitting the cost of a permit and helping the university go green.

Parking Services also plans to go live soon with an app for Lot K called ParkMe. It is an app that “provides real time parking availability” and is already in use in the Founders Hall garage at the Arlington Campus. Cantor declared that the app would be available for Lot K soon.

“Like other efforts, it is another tool in providing our customers as much information as possible to help guide their decision-making," Cantor explained.

In order to build more parking, the money has to come from students, faculty and staff. The parking and transportation budget is accessible online, but Cantor explained that the money they receive comes from “the sale of passes, visitor parking revenue and some citation revenue.” Parking Services doesn’t receive any funding from the university at this time.

“We are out here trying to serve the faculty, staff and students,” Cantor said. “We can’t control how many are necessarily here or at what time, but we are trying to give people the best information possible to help them make the best decisions.”

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