BUSINESS

Ole Miss Parking and Transportation Department works to make traffic flow more smoothly

Nancy Jackson
nmjackso@go.olemiss.edu
Oxford Stories

Many University of Mississippi students have their own vehicles and rely on them to get to and from campus daily. Most have also faced parking issues on campus. Though the university offers buses to campus from campus, seven out of 10 students said they prefer to drive.

UM sophomore Ashley Donnelly has parking woes. “I always have trouble finding a parking spot even remotely close to my classes,” she said. “I’m usually circling around a lot for more than 45 minutes before I find a parking spot.”

Many students and faculty members have encountered the same issues.

Mike Harris, director of the UM Department of Parking and Transportation, said UM has more than enough parking for everyone on this campus. “All of the spots are not as convenient as people wish they were,” he said. “but at almost any given time, I will be able to show a student hundreds of empty parking spots.”

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Transportation officer scans permit to give a ticket to an illegally parked vehicle. Photo by Nancy Jackson.

With thousands of students and faculty driving on campus daily, getting a ticket isn’t uncommon. Students are allowed to appeal the ticket if they feel it was issued by mistake. They can appeal online or in person within seven days of receiving the ticket, explaining the mistake and why it should be repealed.

Though many believe the Department of Parking and Transportation handles  appeals, a judiciary board of students selected by the dean does. This separation allows for a much smoother appeals process.

Although the appeals process is separate from the Department of Parking and Transportation, department leaders still hear from many students.

“The way we address complaints from faculty and students about parking issues is to always start by listening,” Harris said. “We listen to what happened and really try to see what the issue is, whether it be on the department’s end or if the driver did simply make a mistake. It’s typically a very smooth process, especially now that we have started including pictures with the tickets.”

UM freshmen Lynsey Meyer said the campus is growing too quickly to accommodate all of the cars. “For many people, their only option is to park off campus, then take the bus in,” she said, “which I don’t find convenient. I’m hoping the university helps fix this issue in the next few years.”

UM will open another parking garage fall 2017 that will accommodate 1,500 cars and is expected to help relieve many traffic issues.

The university will also open a new bus hub near the Student Union that will enable more students to use the campus bus system.

And they will be removing on-road parking on Rebel Drive and North Gate Drive to enable cars and busses to flow more easily and increase safety.

“In these areas, there are too many deliveries and drop-offs being made, and there is no choice but for cars to stop in the middle of the road and cause traffic jams,” Harris said.

The department also hopes to enhance the mobile technology they currently have. UM has two free parking assistive phone apps, Passport and Parker. The Parker app enables students to view which commuter parking lots have open parking spaces and provides directions to and from the parking lot. The Passport phone app enables individuals to pay to park in metered spots on campus or on the Square.

Harris said he hopes to incorporate more app features, such as license plate recognition, and he wants to add more campus cameras. He believes both will help eliminate permit stickers and provide more campus safety. 

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