Parking can be a struggle for Cal Poly students, but for Cal Poly University Police Department (UPD) Associate Director Marlene Cramer, it’s an opportunity for students to explore alternate forms of transportation.
With more than 7,000 parking spaces on campus, it’s difficult to make decisions for the greater good of all individuals coming to campus, Cramer said.
“Our focus is to invest in alternative transportation, to encourage people to not bring their cars to campus, but it’s going to take some time,” Cramer said.
Parking permit availability was a big issue at the beginning of this quarter. When annual and fall quarter parking permits sold out
Sept. 13, students struggled to find places to park their cars.
Transportation and Parking Services observed this issue, as well as commuter parking patterns and decided to sell more Orange Lot permits Sept. 27 until Sept. 29 for $138. The Orange Lots include lots H12, H14 and H16.
To help solve the problem, freshmen no longer have the option to bring their cars to campus. In the past, less than 15 percent of freshman residents brought cars to campus, according to Transportation and Parking Services. During the 2016-2017 school year, about 500 freshmen parked on campus.
The university made the decision to allocate for increased general commuter parking.
Students living off campus do not have many options to get to campus, and driving can be both convenient and reasonable. Cramer explained that some students do not have another option.
“We do have a lot of students who live out of the San Luis Obispo area, as far as Gilroy,” Cramer said. “I would hope that students who do live nearby campus don’t bring their cars to campus and would use alternative forms of transportation.”
This year, parking meter prices have also increased for the first time in 12 years. In 2005, they increased from $1 to $1.50 per hour. Now the rate is $2 per hour which is the same as the hourly rate at the pay stations.
“The reason that we have metered parking is to encourage short term use. With the demand on the meters, we felt it necessary to increase the rate to keep up with demand. Parking is a self-support entity,” Cramer said.
As Cal Poly strives to remain a sustainable, environmentally-friendly campus, the university encourages students to find alternative modes of transportation to commute. Students who live in the general vicinity of campus — 10-20 minutes walking — can get to campus by walking, biking or even busing.
Cal Poly’s campus will be continuously developing and updating in the next 20 years with President Jeffrey Armstrong’s Master Plan. With the plan in place, many areas of campus will be redesigned and reconfigured, ultimately changing the layout of buildings, parking structures, etc.
Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Riley Nilsen expressed her concern with parking on campus, especially with limited space and funds to expand parking facilities.
“My biggest concern is the more demand that we’re creating for parking passes, we’re gonna need to have that infrastructure to support more parking spots, which ultimately, right now in the Master Plan, is projected to be our agricultural land,” agricultural science senior Nilsen said. “I’ve heard that from a lot of constituents in my college that they don’t want to give up that ag land.”
Students should take advantage of alternative modes of transportation, Nilsen said.
“I’m very passionate about reducing the need of parking passes in general, just because San Luis Obispo is such a a small town and it is fairly easy to walk or bike to campus,” Nilsen said.
Alternative Forms of Transportation
This summer, ASI created an alternative transportation survey to gauge the Cal Poly community’s knowledge of the availability of other forms of transportation available to students.
The questions were prompted to induce some sense of ownership about the options for alternative modes of transportation and in essence induce some guilt, according to Nilsen.
Zipcar has been an option on campus for the past five years and is trying to expand, according to Cramer, however, only about 18 percent of students are aware of the service.
“You can make a trip out of the area, if you’re under 25, you can actually rent a car,” Cramer said.
Biking options are very present at Cal Poly and in the San Luis Obispo area. The bikeshare program is coming to campus to help students get to downtown San Luis Obispo.
The bike storage on campus recently increased. Last year, ASI Board of Directors allocated funding for more bike racks and fronted $24,000. UPD partnered with them and matched those funds in total, providing 800 new spots.
Cal Poly is in the process of installing spots in front of Mott Athletics Center, along Mustang Way and in between the Health Center and the Recreation Center.
Cramer added that Parking Services has been removing parking spaces to put in bike spaces.
“We are really showing that we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint by reducing those parking spaces,” Cramer said.
BoltAbout is an electric bike company that leases bikes starting at $79 per month.
“You can easily bike now to campus without fear of being late because it’s motorized,” Nilsen said.
Another transportation option is electric vehicles. They are encouraged, as they are environmentally friendly and not as harmful to the environment. There are 12 spots dedicated to electric vehicle charging on campus for students who choose to use this option.
Amtrak is also encouraged for students to use as transportation for longer routes. Cal Poly students can receive a 15 percent discount through the Amtrak Student Discount Program and can be picked up right on campus.
Finally, Cal Poly students are able to ride the SLO Transit bus for free, both to and from campus, and around the town as well.
Correction: A previous version of this story said BoltAbout bikes cost $30 per month to rent.