University of Iowa: Fewer parking tickets crippling parking revenues

| December 5, 2013

The University of Iowa is witnessing a gradual decline in parking revenues with each passing year – but it’s not complaining about the lost revenues. Instead, it’s behind them. The school cites alternative modes of transportation, the ever-present threat of tickets, and fewer metered spaces as major reasons for this downward trend.

The Gazette reports that Iowa’s parking tickets numbered 120,265 in 2001, but they fell to 46,464 in this fiscal year ending in July. If the warnings issued last year are included, total parking tickets have dropped by 47% as compared to 2001.


Cars may soon be a thing of the past in this campus. Image courtesy: Stephen Cummings

Reasons for Iowa’s decline in parking revenues

The university is witnessing a large chunk of students, faculty, and staff adopting greener ways of getting around campus, like walking, cycling, and public transportation. This change in commuting habits is one of the major reasons for fewer cars on campus, and fewer parking violations.

Kelsey Zlevor, a 21-year-old senior student, says, “I maybe drive the car 15 minutes a week. It hardly ever gets used.”

University of Iowa has also become stricter in its enforcement of parking rules and has increased its parking fines. As a result, drivers are taking additional care not to infringe parking regulations.

According to Jim Sayre, associate director of University of Iowa Parking and Transportation, “When we keep the gates down at the lots we control, fewer people can park there illegally.”

Fewer metered parking reduce scope for illegal parking

Expired meter citations are among the top three most common parking violations on campus. According to Ricketts, “Oftentimes, expired meter violations are not committed deliberately — it’s an accident. But reducing an individual’s chance of receiving a parking citation for an overtime meter is one important one.”

Out of the 15,669 parking spaces spread across the campus, only 1,000 are metered. More than 1,000 metered parking spots have now been converted to cashiered garages or gated zones. Prepaid and assigned lots or structures total to more than 10,750 spots, requiring permits.

Dave Ricketts, UI’s parking and transportation director, says that “previously, meters represented 1/12th of the campus parking spaces and accounted for 60 percent of the violations.”

Conversion of metered spots to cashiered and permitted parking started from as early as 1988. Ricketts says that although meters still exist in smaller sites, most of the large metered spots have been replaced with cashiers or pay stations, reducing the scope for illegal parking.

Initiatives by officials help students and staff avoid parking fines

The parking department of UI employs several strategies to increase drivers’ convenience, educate people about parking rules and help them avoid fines.

Bike station

A bike station belonging to B-cycle. B-cycle is a possible vendor for the UI bike program. From: The Gazette

At least one student said that access to Zipcar as well as bicycling programs and promotions have motivated students to ditch their cars.

The department organizes student and employee orientations, puts together a “top 10 ways to avoid parking violations” flier in collaboration with the student government, and issues one warning to all vehicles before assessing a fine.

In case employees forget their campus parking permit for the day, they can call officials and any ticket issued will be considered void. Also, students who don’t have a parking permit can get one within 48 hours and fines imposed in that regard will be cancelled.

UI transportation heads have now kick-started initiatives like bicycle parking and installation of bike repair stations to further encourage alternate means of transportation. A bicycle sharing program to provide bikes on rental basis will be started shortly, the funding for which is expected early next year.

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Category: Education, Enforcement, Parking, Parking management

About the Author ()

A creative writer at heart, Lisa currently writes for SmartSign’s blogs and dabbles in content strategies for SEO. She spends the rest of the time lounging in the comforts of her home, surfing the internet for areas of interest, or traveling to unexplored destinations. Having previously studied and worked in the field of journalism and media, Lisa likes calling herself a web journalist. She takes special interest in grassroots and tribal issues, and topics concerning women empowerment. She swears that books are a person’s best travel companion, and that good food can liven up any dull day. Lisa lives in the beautiful city of Jaipur, India.

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