Since the beginning of the spring semester, many NC State students have taken to social media sites, specifically Reddit, to voice concerns over parking, ranging from anger about parking tickets to confusion about why, with a smaller student population, there are more restrictions on parking.
A Reddit post titled “We need a parking plan” explained how the author got ticketed for parking in a vacant lot. With the dwindling number of free parking spots outside of NC State, such as church parking, it can be difficult to find accessible parking for simple things like going to the library to study and work, or to not have to walk on campus on a rainy day.
A comment replied “... paying for parking is just about the dumbest thing in college. I got my first parking violation after 3 years being here because I was parked for literally 10 minutes while I got the Covid test the school REQUIRED me to get.” Similar posts about parking can be found throughout the subreddit.
NCSU Transportation is an auxiliary-based organization, which means none of the department’s funding comes from the state, but rather from the parking permits students, faculty and staff purchase to cover the operating costs of maintaining parking spaces and facilities. Chris Dobek, the assistant director of parking services, emphasized how selling permits, not handing out citations, is a vital source of revenue for the department.
“We are governed by the North Carolina Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund, so that means we only keep 20% of every parking citation that we issue,” Dobek said. “80% of the citations are rounded back to the state of North Carolina, and they’re eventually just distributed back to the local Wake County or local county school systems.”
Before COVID-19, there were anywhere from 23,000 to 25,000 vehicles on campus, according to Dobek. Currently, there are only around 5,000.
“There may have been a perceived increase in tickets, because we had to decrease the number of vehicles on campus…we’ve shunted into a core of campus and really contained people to a specific area on campus,” Dobek said.
The parking officers, on a good day, try to go in every currently approved parking lot twice. Additionally, Holt Craven, assistant director of finance, noted that the Dan Allen and Coliseum parking decks have had the gates removed and enforce parking through the ParkMobile app. Students unaware of this change might have been confused about receiving a citation for parking in those areas.
The student transit fee contributes significantly to the revenue of the department. However, according to Craven, the transit fees that students pay do not completely fund the Wolfline. In fact, the costs of maintaining that service exceed the amount of revenue, and a parking subsidy covers the rest of that cost.
Since transportation fees remained the same for this semester, the Wolfline was able to remain operational for those on campus. Like many other departments, transportation has suffered revenue losses due to COVID-19, but Dobek said with good budgeting, the department is in better shape than last semester.
“Our goal is to manage our parking, so the people that pay for their parking receive a return on their investment,” Dobek said.
Information about parking updates and parking permits can be found on the NCSU Transportation website.