New transportation and parking plan takes effect this fall
The University’s new Five-Year Transportation and Parking System Plan was developed with an eye toward equity and efficiency.
The plan, which the University Board of Trustees approved on March 23, includes provisions to distribute operating costs among the many people who use the system. It also provides funding through fiscal year 2021-22 to help ensure that the Chapel Hill Transit system remains fare-free while it reduces the parking revenue subsidy for transit services costs.
In January 2016, the University began working with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. to develop the plan for fiscal 2017-22, which incorporates feedback from the Advisory Committee for Transportation and Parking, whose members represent a broad range of campus-wide interests. The consultants hosted focus groups with campus representatives and used the Metro Quest online tool to solicit concerns and feedback from the broader campus community. That information helped refine the plan through several iterations, said Cheryl Stout, director of transportation and parking.
The plan, slated to go into effect in the fall, covers both financial obligations and planned enhancements for the multimillion-dollar transportation and parking system, which draws the majority of its revenue from daytime parking permits, visitor parking fees, and department and student fees. The University receives no state appropriations for parking facilities and under state law, fines collected for parking tickets go toward supporting North Carolina’s public schools.Beginning this fall, employees who hold daytime parking permits will see a modest 1 percent fee increase each of the first three years, which equates to a biweekly increase of 12 cents to 88 cents. Permanent employees are charged on a sliding scale based on salary, and the new plan raises the lowest annual salary range to $29,000 (up from $25,000) to better reflect the University’s current pay structure.
Hourly rates on north campus will increase by 25 cents, but will not change for UNC Health Care System patients and visitor facilities. There are no increases to departmental transportation fees.
Students will pay $5.74 more in fees during the first year to support local and regional transit and Point-to-Point shuttle operations, and in academic year 2018-19 will pay an additional $5.93. Increases for 2017-18 and 2018-19 have been approved by the Student Fee Advisory Subcommittee, the Tuition and Fee Advisory Task Force and the Board of Trustees.
Historically, daytime permit holders and patient and visitor parking revenue have subsidized the overall cost of the parking system and a portion of the transit costs. Early on, though, campus community feedback indicated that the costs for the self-funded transportation and parking system should be more equitably distributed among all users. As a result, the new plan phases in a weeknight parking program beginning on Aug. 15, 2019. Charging for night parking was approved by the trustees in 2011 and originally slated to begin in 2014, but it was deferred for consideration in the current plan.
“The plan’s recommended changes affect user groups across campus,” Stout said. “How to equitably distribute the cost was a difficult conversation, and it required a collaborative effort by members of the advisory committee to agree on final recommendations.”
The plan takes a gradual, phased approach to balancing costs across the board, she said. The Department of Transportation and Parking will work with community representatives to finalize the operational details in a way that is sensitive to all the user groups affected, Stout added.
Campus and community members will receive specific information about the weeknight parking program before it begins. Basic information regarding permits includes:
Daytime permits, including park-and-ride permits, will be honored for weeknight parking, with no additional permit or cost required.
Employees without a daytime permit who wish to park on campus at night can purchase a weeknight permit. The cost is based on salary range. For example, employees with a salary between $25,000 and $50,000 will pay $258 per year, or $9.92 per biweekly period.
Permits will be valid in lots throughout campus, and weeknight parking will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Initially, students will pay an additional $6 as the weeknight parking component of the transportation fee in 2019-20. The following year, the fee will increase to $8, then to $10 in 2021-22. First-year students are exempt from the fee and not eligible for the weeknight parking permit since they can’t bring vehicles to campus.
Paid parking hours for visitors will be extended in areas not already operating on a 24-hour or extended basis.
The new plan generates around $2.9 million a year – nearly $14.5 million in total – to meet campus transportation and parking needs for the next five years. It also incorporates several system enhancements.
One such initiative that will help people get from place to place is a new bike sharing program, a suggestion strongly supported throughout the University community. Other enhancements include a new TransLoc app for real-time updates on Point-to-Point Express shuttle service and on-demand service reservations. Efficiency initiatives such as LED lights, a parking access revenue control system and solar-powered digital meter stations help minimize costs.
“Looking at equity throughout the system, and across the University, is key to everything we do,” Stout said. “We always strive to keep cost increases to a minimum without compromising the ability to meet the growing transportation needs of the campus community.”
For more information about the plan, visit move.unc.edu/about/five-year-plan/.