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Pay to stay

BY ANDREW POTOCKI | JULY 16, 2015 5:00 AM

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A parking loophole is closing: The University of Iowa is installing new automated tellers at parking lots across campus, which will eventually run 24-hours a day and eliminate the ability to leave without paying aftermidnight.

Currently, most university parking lots are regulated with human tellers. However, after the tellers leave at midnight, the barriers gates are lifted, and drivers are able to leave without paying.

“The pay-in lane is a way to more efficiently manage traffic in and out of the parking lots,” said Jim Sayre, an associate director of UI Parking and Transportation.

Currently, he said, a parking employee begins going around the UI campus lots at midnight to mark the wheels of cars that still have to pay for parking. Early the next day, another employee goes around the lots and writes tickets for cars that have not yet left.

However, if cars leave before the second employee arrives, they aren’t charged.

Even though the policy states everyone who parks in university lots — including late at night or overnight — are expected to pay, many students have said they have been able to leave after midnight without being required to pay for parking.

“The policy has always been there,” Sayer said. “It just seems like some people have found a loophole.”

There will be 14 automated tellers installed on campus, with the majority of them located on the West Side and around the UI Hospitals and Clinics. However the IMU ramp, the Recreation Center lot, and the Main Library lot will also have automated tellers.

Sayre said the department would not remove any tellers who are stationed at each parking lot, but will add pay-in-lane systems to speed up the flow of traffic.

Sayre also aid the rates for the parking lots will not change; however, on July 1, the daily maximum rate the university can charge an individual for being in a lot was raised from $18 to $20.

The Parking and Transportation Department hopes to make every pay-in-lane accessible to university IDs, allowing students to pay for parking on their U-bills. It will also free up another exit lane for some lots, getting rid of the lane reserved for university parking permit holders.

Sayre said the pay-in-lanes will eventually run 24 hours, but when this will happen is still in question. In the meantime, the automated system will act just like a human teller and stop working at midnight.

“We want to focus on finishing with construction before we start moving toward any policy changes,” he said.

Students have expressed mixed feelings about this window of opportunity closing, with some believing students and faculty shouldn’t have to pay for overnight use of on-campus lots.

“There’s no need for it,” UI freshman Omar Truitt said. “We already pay for a permit, and parking during the day, it just seems unnecessary.”

Some don’t mind the overnight pay and have welcomed the new features the pay-in-lane system will offer.

“It seems reasonable,” UI graduate student  Leo Peterson said. “[The library lot] has always been a paid lot, so it makes sense.”

Despite people’s opinion on the matter, Sayer said, the department created the pay-in-lanes to make using the lots easier for the public and because the old parking system is in desperate need of an upgrade.

“We didn’t implement these changes to the lots because we wanted money,” Sayer said. “We did it because we had to, and we wanted to make using the lots more convenient.”


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