Solving the parking puzzle

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By Kristen Cloyed, Assistant Section Editor

The first few weeks of parking on campus are an unavoidable nightmare. If you want a spot, you better haul your butt down to campus before 8 a.m. or you can forget about it. Every semester begins that way. Then, gradually, parking problems die down.

Students have an array of options. First, there are several student lots and parking garages around campus, designated by red signs and require an access card. Second, if parking is still hard to come by, students with permits can park at St. Margaret Mary’s Church or First Christian Church across Dodge Street.

A parking permit is required to park on campus. Permits range in price from $37.50 to $250. There are seven different permit options, the cheapest being a night-only pass for the fall semester and the most expensive being an all-day permit including access to the East garage from August 2011 to August 2012.

Third, UNO has a shuttle system that takes students to and from the Crossroads Mall parking garage. The service runs Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. At 15-minute intervals, the shuttles pick up students at the Southwest corner of the Crossroads garage and take them to campus. Each shuttle stops at the Durham Science Center and the Milo Bail Student Center before departing again for Crossroads. This parking is free, so prime spots are snatched up pretty quickly.

So many choices can be overwhelming. Simply put: parking permits only make sense if you live on campus, if you have classes on the Pacific Street campus or if you have night classes. My advice is to park at Crossroads if at all possible. Crossroads parking can be time consuming and frustrating, but it’s free and, lately, saving a little money couldn’t hurt.

At Crossroads, the shuttles take time. Allow yourself at least 15 extra minutes, not including walking time, to take the shuttle. Avoid 10 a.m. shuttle rides at all costs. The most popular class time on campus is 10 to 11:15 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You’re almost guaranteed a late start. The same goes for late afternoon. Catching the shuttle back to Crossroads between 3:30 and 5 p.m. is as stressful as it gets. Don’t expect to catch the first that arrives when there’s a crowd outside MBSC. Be patient and give yourself time. Call your boss and change your work schedule because this chaos will never die down. My personal wait record is 30 minutes.

Night parking is another story. Because the shuttle doesn’t run after 6 p.m., you’ll need to get to campus early. Don’t show up five minutes early expecting to find a spot close to your night class. Put on some comfy shoes because you’re going to walk.

There are pros and cons no matter where you park. On campus, a permit doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a spot. I’ve heard grumblings of students who have paid their parking dues only to end up parking at Crossroads because all the lots and garages were full.

Many of the shuttle drivers are incredibly nice. They love to meet the students they cart around every day. Several of them are entertaining, always equipped with a smile and a joke to brighten your day.

At the most, the shuttle system could use a few tweaks to make it perfect. First, for the safety of the students, there should always be a shuttle waiting at Crossroads, but this is not always the case. Second, there need to be more shuttles running at peak hours, like late afternoon, to minimize the rush. Third, some of the drivers don’t let students stand in the aisle room, which contributes to the frantic rush to board before seats run out. Fourth, many of the bars for standing passengers to grasp are too high, especially for short people like me.

Keeping all this in mind, there’s really no need to fret over parking. With so many options, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Soon you’ll settle into a routine and making your way to class will be as easy as tying your walking shoes.

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