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Parking permit oversell and how it affects you

By: Bob Browand

Anybody who visits the UH main campus knows parking can be congested at times to say the least. Throw in a weekday football game or star-studded graduation ceremony and the situation becomes even more challenging than usual.

As the director of parking and transportation services, I know the situation all too well, as do all of you who are out on campus every day. While there are many reasons for this congestion, including consistently growing enrollment rates and new construction projects that take over what used to be parking spaces, one factor in particular seems to take most of the blame and that’s the fact that we sell more parking permits than there are spaces on campus.

While on the surface permit oversell might seem like the obvious problem, there’s much more to the story.

What is oversell?

Oversell, the act of selling more parking permits than there are spaces on campus, is a common practice done at most major universities across the country.

The idea behind this practice is that not everyone is on campus at the same time every day or even on the same days. Some people only come to campus Monday and Wednesday evenings while others are here Tuesday and Thursday during the day, it all comes down to class and work schedules. 

Most schools try to stick to the industry average oversell rate of 1.8 to 2.0 which means that there are 1.8 to 2 permits sold for every one parking space. UH is currently operating at 1.8 which is better than average with spaces to spare, although that may be hard to believe at times.

There are spaces …

you just have to know where to look. In an ideal world, everyone driving to campus would be able to cruise right up to the building they are visiting and find a convenient place to park; however, that’s not realistic when you attend a campus that sits on a little over 594 acres. While that might sound like a lot of land, once you factor in all of the University’s buildings, green space and tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff coming to campus every day, it’s easy to run out of space pretty quickly.

To make up for this shortcoming, we’ve made changes to our parking program over the years by building parking garages, incorporating outlying parking lots and providing overflow parking at ERP; however, what good are these new resources if individuals decide not to use them?

During the fall semester, there may have been times when campus parking lots were full, but parking was always available at ERP. Not once did those overflow lots meet capacity.  As the semester progressed, we saw more parking available on campus when compared to the start of the school year, so our oversell system IS working, just not in the most convenient way possible. The options are there, we just have to look for them and remind ourselves that we are a part of a fantastic Tier One university that is growing in popularity (and consequently size) every day. As we continue to improve and adjust our program, please bear with us and make room for your fellow Cougars.