Darren Yip – Special to The Southern News –
It is 8 o’clock on a Tuesday morning. Cars are lining the road at the intersection on Fitch Street, leading into the parking garage. Sluggishly, the cars crawl into the garage one after another. An hour later, an electric sign turns on: a sign that reads “GARAGE FULL.” At the same time, small lines of cars driven by students start exiting the garage.
University Assistant Joseph Gibson witnesses this scene nearly every day from the security booth in front of the garage.
“There are about five hundred spaces for students, which fills up pretty quickly,” said Gibson. “Monday or Tuesday gets pretty busy here, probably fills up around 8:30 [in the morning].”
Gibson also commented on the insufficient number of parking spaces to accommodate Southern’s high number of commuters.
“Sometimes it gets bad enough that what we tend to do is shut the lot down, try not to let anyone in unless they’re faculty or grad students who park in the back,” said Gibson.
“That alone lets us know that this is far, far from being enough parking spaces for the overflow or intake of the number of students [who drive] here.”
Commuters have found various ways in overcoming the shortage of parking spaces. Some do their best to avoid the parking garage on Fitch Street whenever possible, and some believe in braving the congested parking lot, hoping to get lucky.
David Peters, a senior accounting major, does not even bother trying to park at the garage on Fitch Street if it is after 8 a.m. Instead, he chooses to park at Lot 8 or Lot 9 and will walk the longer distance to class.
“Unless I come early, I don’t even try cause I’m going to waste fifteen minutes over in there, drive back out, and still have to walk for ten minutes in,” said Peters. “I’ll be a half an hour late instead of just ten minutes late.”
Unlike Peters, Veneira Bernard, also a senior accounting major, thinks that attempting to find a parking spot in an already crowded parking garage is worth the risk because of the shorter walking distance it affords.
“In the past, I had to park in the other lots, and I had to walk a lot,” she said. “This lot is way more convenient.”
“In the garage, there are days when [there are no more parking spaces],” she said. “It’s really bad, especially when I’m late for class. I literally have to sit and wait and fight for the space.”
Concerning the “GARAGE FULL” sign in the corner, Gibson said that it does not necessarily mean that there are absolutely no more parking spaces left in the garage.
“This is a counter,” he explains. “Every time a car goes in, it subtracts a number. When a car comes out, it will add a number. When it reaches zero, the sign in that corner automatically comes on.”
Gibson stresses that the system is not foolproof, and that there is a fault with this counter system. Since the counter counts down from five hundred, it “doesn’t account for the fifty spots on the ground floor for the faculty.”
Gibson looks forward to the completion of the garage that is currently being built on Wintergreen Avenue. “A lot of them and a lot of us are waiting for the new garage, which will relieve many of the parking problems we have currently,” he said.