Students can take solace in knowing that student parking costs will remain the same for the fourth consecutive year.
“We do our best to keep costs as low as possible for our students,” said Anand Rampersad, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services at UCF. “Despite the constant growth in our parking facilities, there hasn’t been an increase in the Transportation Access Fee or permit fee structure in five and six years, respectively.”
After tax, UCF students pay $47.94 for a semester decal, $95.88 for a multi-semester decal, $50.35 for a semester hang tag and $100.68 for a multi-semester hang tag. Parking and Transportation Services sold 47,337 student permits in 2013-14, 48,425 permits in 2014-15 and 48,560 permits in 2015-16.
As of February, there were 18,263 parking spots on main campus — 11,313 are available to students and 1,898 are dedicated to faculty and staff.
Senior Jamie Schnaitter said paying $100.68 for a multi-semester hang tag would not bother him if UCF had “ample and convenient parking.” The 22-year-old said there were times he spent more than an hour looking for a spot.
“I usually try to park in Garage C because it’s the most convenient place for me as an engineering student,” Schnaitter said. “I have decent luck there on some days, but not so much anymore with the construction.”
The Garage C expansion, which began in November 2015, will add 604 new parking spots. Upon completion, the garage will have a total of 1,894 spaces.
The threat of lane closures on Gemini Boulevard and minor traffic has deterred Schnaitter from parking in Garage C. Because UCF’s five-year capital improvement plan includes 2,000 new parking spaces, he suggested that, in the future, the university should build entirely new parking lots and garages instead of adding to existing ones.
“We’re not able to find parking,” Schnaitter said. “The price isn’t fair.”
As UCF is in a constant state of development, a parking space inventory is completed each September, said Krishna Singh, director of Parking and Transportation Services. Due to the construction of Global UCF in 2015, the 18,667 available parking spaces were reduced to 18,263 spaces, with 11,771 of them designated for students.
The loss of 404 parking spaces prompted Transportation and Parking Services to initiate UCF’s Park and Ride system. Students are able to park their vehicles in Lot E4, located next to the Softball Field, and be shuttled to the stop near the Health and Public Affairs buildings.
Rising senior and legal studies major Ursula Hirsch, 36, said if Garage B and Garage C are full, she will use the Park and Ride system, which operates Monday through Friday and picks up students every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“If we pay for parking, we should always be able to find a spot,” Hirsch said. “Being late to class because of parking issues or closing down garages for other events is not OK.”
After surveying 686 students last fall, the Central Florida Future found 74 percent of participants have missed class entirely because they could not find a parking spot, and 60 percent said that their grades have been negatively affected because of parking. To avoid such issues, 52 percent of participants said they have resorted to parking off campus in the anticipation of not finding a parking spot, and 54 percent said they have parked illegally in order to make it to class on time.
For each of the four days she is on campus, Hirsch allots 30 minutes to an hour to parking and walking to class. But Knights such as graduate student Andrea Pulido do not see the need to take such measures.
Once on campus, Pulido said she parks her Chevrolet Volt within five to 10 minutes. She doesn’t believe that decal prices need to be reduced.
“When I started at UCF, permits were outrageously priced,” Pulido said. “But even those prices have been brought down by the university, and they’re comparable, if not lower, than other universities of similar size.”
Survey results showed that about 40 percent of the participants spend somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes to find a parking spot.
Shana Medel is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Email her at ShanaM@CentralFloridaFuture.com.