Clemson’s Parking Travesty
This past semester, I have been going to campus at 8:30 every morning to get a parking spot, even on days when I don’t have classes until 11:15. It’s not even a good spot. I park in The Pit, or C-1, to be official. I know that if I get to campus at 9:30 or 10, there won’t be any parking spots left, and I’ll have to stalk someone coming back from their early morning classes all the way back to their car. I’m not proud of it—inching along behind a stranger in the parking lot, my shoe barely touching the brake pedal, until my prey gets in his car and pulls away, and then pouncing – that is, unless some sports car swings in before I do.
Clemson University Parking Services has issued 24,000 permits for Fall Semester despite only having 12,500 parking spaces. That would be fine if not all 24,000 commuters needed to be on campus every weekday for hours at a time, at the same time.
I hope that parking will be better next semester, but if not, here are some tips to help ease the pain:
Park in R-6
As you approach the intersection of Highway 76 and Perimeter Road, you’ll see a big new parking lot. It’s R-6, and it’s not just for residential students. According to Kat Moreland from Parking and Transportation Services, commuters are allowed to park there.
R-6 is so far from campus that it won’t even fit on the parking map. Luckily, there is a shuttle that can take you from the lot to Library Circle.
Take the Bus
This isn’t the most feasible option for some people, but if the Red Line is accessible from where you live, use it as much as you like. It’s free. Sort of. It’s covered by our $33 per semester transit fee. However, if you’re like me and you have to leave campus and go straight to work after class, the bus just won’t do. The Red Line comes every thirty minutes (usually), and often, it fills up before it stops at Cherry Road, so if you wait there, you’ll likely be passed by. So catch the bus at Sikes Hall while there’s still room.
Use the Parking App…Once It’s Fixed
There’s an app for your phone that is supposed to tell you which parking lots have spaces available. It’s a failure. They’re working on it.
Park on the Red Line
This one’s a little sneaky. If I take the Red Line from where I live, it could take thirty minutes to get to campus. That’s ridiculous. However, if I park at Bi-Lo and catch the bus there, it can cut my commute time in half, skipping all those backroads that the bus takes.
If I’ve paid for a parking permit, I don’t want to pay a meter. But the option is there. Some meters on campus require a permit in addition to cash or coins. The limit is one hour for commuters, but you have a 5-minute grace period on top of that.
Don’t Park Illegally
How many times have I driven past The Pit and seen cars parked on the grass, on the roadside, or on the painted areas, with parking tickets stuck under the wipers? Many times. Crumple up the ticket and toss it away, but you can’t escape the fine. If you have three or more past due citations older than 15 days, you become a “scofflaw,” which sounds like an Old West villain but isn’t nearly as cool. Parking Services has cars with license plate readers. They can drive around parking lots, scanning license plates with little cameras on the roof of the car, and the system will notify the driver if they have found a scofflaw. Then they call up a tow truck and haul the scofflaw’s car away.
Build a Parking Garage
This is a tip for Parking Services. Yes, the university charter forbids building a parking garage on campus, but old rules need to be analyzed, questioned, and, if not justified, done away with. A parking garage would provide more parking spaces per acre of land than a traditional parking lot. It doesn’t even have to be an eyesore. Add some brick veneer, and it would fit in with Clemson’s architectural aesthetic. It would require funds, but more people able to park means more permits to sell. Students have already suggested this, but we need to keep pushing the issue until Parking Services listens.