A proposition

People (I assume) are always wondering “How can we make Duke marginally better?” To them I say simply, “Fix parking.” They might respond by saying “But, John, parking here is such an ill-conceived atrocious mess, that short of well-meaning carpool initiatives or a complete redesign of the campus, how can we even begin to fix it?” And they have a point. But I know where to begin.

You see, I got a ticket today for having an “Improper Zone/Permit.” Now before you start to question whether or not my zone was proper, I will say that I parked in a spot surrounded by empty spaces, in a lot a I’ve parked in about 15 times already this semester, in the same spot I’ve parked in before this year. My parking permit may not have technically applied, but I figured, after a while, that nobody minded, since nobody said anything. But today I got a ticket.

Right now you are probably wondering, “But, John, if you have a parking permit, then why did you park in a zone outside of its applicability?” Well, I live off-campus. According to the Duke parking Web site, I should buy a Blue Zone Pass so I can commute to West. Generally this has worked out well—if by well, you mean that I have to leave my apartment half an hour before class, drive to the back of the Blue Zone, spend 5 minutes looking for a spot, then walk 10 minutes from wherever in the outskirts of Durham I’ve managed to park across West Campus to the academic quad. Can’t complain.

But this semester, I have class three times a week on East Campus. I suppose Duke wants me drive to West, walk to the bus stop and take a 10 minute bus ride to class, but since I remembered from freshman year that there are often unoccupied parking spaces in the lot off Buchanon, next to Epworth, I figured there would be no harm in parking on East. And there wasn’t, until today (although I don’t know if any harm was done at all, since it wasn’t like the lot was packed to the brim). Maybe Duke wants off-campus students like me to buy TWO parking passes, but the solution is much simpler:    

Add another, off-campus parking permit. Relegate its users to the underutilized spots in the back of the Blue Zone (which is all that’s ever available anyway) and in similar lots on East. Allow them the same liberties that Blue Zone passes have after 5 p.m.and on weekends, but keep them out of certain lots in the Blue Zone. It will decrease congestion in the Blue Zone and will allow off-campus students to have the flexibility they need. You can charge the same price (since Duke parking costs are completely untouched by supply-and-demand) and make everyone happier. It’s really quite simple. It’s embarrassing that this hasn’t already been done.


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