Parking blues: Summer circumstances leave employees displaced


Staff File Photo

Jacob Eads

Six winding laps, all the way to the summit of a campus parking garage. The only reward: not the parking spot you hoped for, but a bird’s-eye view of campus.

UK Transportation Services have been busy combatting a lack of summer parking spaces, but is looking on to the fall semester, in hopes of introducing new programs to provide relief to campus commuters.

This summer, thousands of soon-to-be students flooded the new Bill Gatton Student Center for their SeeBlueU Orientations, bringing their cars in tote.

The influx of people on campus resulted in a shortage of parking spots, certainly felt by those who depend on UK’s garages and lots for spaces in their everyday routines. The surplus of people, even catching UK’s Transportation Services off guard.

“We were actually a bit surprised this year by the volume of cars that were coming to SeeBlueU,” said Director of Transportation Services of Lance Broeking.

Broeking said his organization “scrambled a little bit” when they saw exactly how few parking spots were available on campus, specifically in Parking Garage 5 on South Limestone, which received the brunt of the visitors.

Broeking provided statistics showing 7,017 employees working on UK’s main campus held parking passes at the time of the department’s last count in fall of 2017.

A total of 4,348 students visited campus for their SeeBlueU Orientations this summer, according to UK’s Office of Enrollment Management.

The Office of Enrollment Management also reported that the highest traffic days in the two-day orientation system saw upwards of 700 attendees, when students experiencing their first day of orientation overlapped with students coming back for their second day.

SeeBlueU Orientations were scheduled all but two weekdays from June 18 through July 13.

The addition of fresh-faced travelers, and their cars, on campus was enough to disrupt some routinized UK employees and students.

“In the last several years for sure, it’s been difficult finding a parking spot. Summer’s better, but even now, summer’s harder than I’ve ever seen it,” UK employee Tim Worley said.

Recognizing the disgruntled, and displaced, commuters affected by the increase in cars, UK Transportation Services issued an all-campus email pleading drivers to consider parking in alternative areas for the remaining duration of SeeBlueU Orientations.

“On the employee side this year, we just didn’t have enough parking,” Broeking said. “People get used to their routines, so anything that interferes with their routines, sometimes there is pushback to that.”

The email suggested Scott Street, Memorial Coliseum and Linden Walk all as places UK employees should attempt to park.

Some felt entitled to their previous parking spots, while others headed the email’s advice and tried to relocate while the parking chaos subsided.

“There’s parking behind Taylor Education building that I’ll try to take advantage of. I also get here early,” said UK employee Maureen Dreckman. “Definitely every summer, there’s that point in time where it’s pretty packed in the parking garages.”

With SeeBlueU Orientations officially surpassed, employees and students alike can try to look forward to the fall semester, knowing Transportation Services is working to implement new changes to the campus in an attempt to dilute the oh-so-common woes of parking.

The time just before fall semester is hectic for Transportation Services, according to Broeking.

“The stress kind of ramps up. Now we have our window to kind of implement everything we need to get implemented, make the changes we need to make, do the construction we need to make and repaint things that need to be painted, all in preparation for August,” Broeking said.

UK Transportation Services plans to add an estimated 430 new parking spots to campus in the coming semester, according to Broeking.

While also altering the supply of parking availability on campus, the organization is working to provide new ways for student and employees to maneuver to, and around, campus.

“We’re trying to reduce the demand on parking, at the same time recognizing not everybody is going to choose to go that route,” Broeking said.

UK Transportation Services is unveiling changes to campus like additions to the ZipCar ride share program, the new Spin bike share program, a new Sunday bus service and the opening of the Student Center parking lot as an offering to those who were previously unsatisfied with UK’s parking dynamics.

Even while taking such a large step, Transportation Services recognizes it still has work to do to appease and aid the campus community.

“There’s still a lot of meat on the bone, to try to convince people there’s other ways to get to campus,” Broeking said. “I feel like there’s more…beneficial changes coming this fall, than we’ve made probably in a year, in a long time.”