North Texas Daily

Parking department readies campus for more students

Parking department readies campus for more students

April 28
02:50 2016

Alejandro Medellin | Staff Writer

@skiny_fats

With two weeks under his belt, associate vice president for information sciences Allen Clark recently discussed the future of the Parking and Transportation Department, which he is leading into more tech-friendly waters.

On April 1, the UNT Police Department and Parking and Transportation split up so each department can better focus on its tasks.

“The last 15 days have been very busy, and as an industrial engineer I really welcome the opportunity,” Clark said.  “I appreciate my boss giving me the opportunity, and also Chief Reynolds for letting me have this transition.”

Clark said UNT chose April 1 because the financial systems in place underwent an upgrade and it was difficult to separate the UNT Police Department and the Parking and Transportation Department accounts.

“We’ve called it Parking and Transportation but it’s just Transportation Services all the way around because we’re looking at bus routes, parking, street routes, pedestrian traffic, skateboarders and bicycles,” Clark said.

Clark said he’s has had his hands full the last two weeks.

“With a background of industrial engineering, to tell you the truth, being able to sit down and look at bus routes and ridership and being able to do operations research on that,” he said. “That’s what my degree was all about.”

And as the university builds more residence halls and other additions, parking will need to follow. Clark said the university must either build more lots or find alternative options.

UNT police chief Ed Reynolds, vice president for finance and administration Bob Brown and parking director Geary Robinson started the process of a 10-year parking and transportation plan, which Clark said is “on the tail-end” of being finished by consultants.

The parking master plan will reflect the university master plan, Clark said, meaning his position is reactive, so when a building is being constructed he needs to have answers.

“I need to be planning in advance,” Clark said, “I don’t want to get to the point of ‘oh the building came up what am I going to do.’”

Bus routes are in the process of being reworked to offer more stops to students who live further from campus, which Clark said will reduce the carbon footprint of the school and allow students the option of not having to commute.

Putting GPS tracking systems on buses so that students are able to track their bus, having skateboard lockers and increasing the number of bicycle racks are some of the things Clark and his department are working on.

“The university is going to grow and if it’s going to grow are we going to increase parking lots?” Clark said. “Or are we going to try to increase ridership on the bus and pedestrian traffic through bicycles, and through skateboards?”

Clark said they are also looking into turning some of the lots into pay-per-hour lots where a patron would use a phone application to pay for parking. This would be an alternative for visitors or students who are on campus for a small amount of time.

Clark said his department is also speaking with the North Texas Transit Authority because it wants the NTTA to make toll tags for students leaving and entering the garage, which would alleviate traffic.

“If you have been in the Highland street garage when class gets let out, you end up with people circling all the way nearly to the top waiting to get out and then when you go out you got to pay,” Clark said.

All of these examples are ideas for now, but how does the department know what students and faculty want? They create a focus group.

The Parking and Transportation department has a parking advisory group with members from the Student Government Association, the Graduate Student Council, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, the president’s office and the chief of police.

“We’ve got these ideas and we need to bounce it off somebody, ‘how are the students going to feel about that,’” Clark said.

But with this comes the inevitability of allocating more resources and being creative.

“Those dollars that are collected are specifically used for our purposes, it doesn’t go into the budget cycle,” Clark said.

Half of the fees from permits and citations go directly to the UNT Police Department as it’s the department’s only form of funding, while the other half goes to the Parking and Transportation Department.

Revenue from parking permits and citations are used for operational purposes within the department such as cleaning up trash in lots, filling up cracks or potholes and paying the student employees who issue citations.

“We’re serving right at 41,000 people,” Clark said. “This is a city and we are running the transportation for that city.”

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1 Comment

  1. Anon
    Anon April 29, 13:24

    Information Services, not Sciences

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