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UPD mulling mobile app parking option

According+to+the+TAMU-CC+website%2C+the+Bayside+Parking+garage+boasts+1%2C205+parking+spaces%2C+32+of+which+are+reserved+on+a+24%2F7+basis.%0APhoto+by+Raul+Alonzo+Jr.%2FISLAND+WAVES
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UPD mulling mobile app parking option

According to the TAMU-CC website, the Bayside Parking garage boasts 1,205 parking spaces, 32 of which are reserved on a 24/7 basis.
Photo by Raul Alonzo Jr./ISLAND WAVES

According to the TAMU-CC website, the Bayside Parking garage boasts 1,205 parking spaces, 32 of which are reserved on a 24/7 basis. Photo by Raul Alonzo Jr./ISLAND WAVES

According to the TAMU-CC website, the Bayside Parking garage boasts 1,205 parking spaces, 32 of which are reserved on a 24/7 basis. Photo by Raul Alonzo Jr./ISLAND WAVES

According to the TAMU-CC website, the Bayside Parking garage boasts 1,205 parking spaces, 32 of which are reserved on a 24/7 basis. Photo by Raul Alonzo Jr./ISLAND WAVES

Raul Alonzo, Reporter

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A new mobile app being evaluated by the University Police Department may change how students and visitors find parking on campus.

It’s called ParkMobile and it’s just one option being explored by the department, according to UPD chief Alan Gutierrez. And while the department is still in the early stages of determining how the app is rolled out, Gutierrez said the desire is to see testing begin sometime this Spring semester.

“We’re still in the process of gathering data and solid numbers to work from,” Gutierrez said. “We don’t know exactly how it’s going to look just yet.”

According to the ParkMobile website, the app’s goal is to “make parking easier” and several universities have already utilized the app, including Texas A&M University — College Station and the University of Texas at Austin. Through the app, campus visitors will be able to park in a designated space for a fee which they can renew throughout the day — much like a parking meter. But with ParkMobile, the transaction takes place on the app and the visitor will not be forced to return to the space in order to purchase more time.

Figuring which spaces and how many is one challenge the UPD is assessing to determine the viability of the app taking root on campus. Gutierrez said the app would likely take a “hybrid” form of the one offered by the vendor that is fitted to work more with TAMU-CC’s needs and limited space availability.

“We have to maximize the use of what we have,” Gutierrez said.

One option being mulled is designating a select percentage of spaces within an area as being available through the app. And while the app does offer the option of reserving spaces ahead of time, Gutierrez said such a feature would not be viable on campus where space is limited.

“We can’t afford to let spaces sit vacant for a long period of time,” Gutierrez said.

According to Gutierrez, the parking fees in the app would be in line with current campus parking rates.

One reason the UPD is looking at the app is to provide another option for visitors to the campus, Gutierrez said. Currently visitors have the option of parking in the Bayside Parking Garage, which holds 1,205 spaces with 32 reserved on a 24/7 basis according to the TAMU-CC website. Students also utilize the garage and can encounter maintenance issues which hinder the flow of traffic. And, with maintenance coming from a vendor in Houston, repairs can sometimes be delayed Gutierrez said.

The UPD chief is hopeful the app may help alleviate some of these challenges.

“I’m excited that we’re evolving to the next technology,” Gutierrez said. “I’m being very optimistic that this will help solve some of our issues.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by UPD Parking/Traffic Control Supervisor Roy Dilks, who sees the app as a way to help open up more spaces in the garage to students.

“We’ve had different systems we’ve tried before,” Dilks said. “We think this is a way forward.”

According to Gutierrez, implementation of the option would move fast if feedback is positive and UPD is given the go-ahead to proceed from the campus Parking Committee. However, the chief said the app gives them the option to adjust as they go and that students and others should feel free to contact his office with any suggestions regarding parking issues.

“By all means, come see me,” Gutierrez said. “If you have ideas, we want to hear them. We’re all in the same boat — we all park here.”

 

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UPD mulling mobile app parking option