Throughout the week, after drivers find and squeeze into parking spots and head to class or work, it’s a common sight to see campus parking enforcement officials patrolling and dropping tickets on windshields for people who have somehow violated a myriad of parking policies by taking those spots.
One of those violations – failure to properly display a parking permit – will soon no longer warrant a ticket. The university’s Department of Parking and Transportation will be implementing new policies in spring 2018, including digital parking passes.
Going fully digital will rely on license plate recognition technology already in use since spring 2016. Currently, parking enforcement vehicles are equipped with scanners that read license plates and notify parking enforcement officers which permit the car is registered under, without having to look at the physical parking permit.
Director of Parking and Transportation Richard Sobaram said because students have already received physical parking permits for the year, the plastic permits will still be seen on cars around campus. But come fall 2018, physical parking permits will be a thing of the past. When students register their cars for the next school year, they will not receive a physical permit.
“Your licenses plate will be your permit,” Sobaram said.
The new initiative will allow students to register more than one car per permit. However, only one car per student will be allowed on campus at a time. If a student has two cars registered, only one can be on UM’s premises within a four hour period at a time.
Sobaram said the main reason to go digital is safety.
“It helps as parking officers become better eyes for UMPD,” he said. “It helps us that any unwanted vehicle on campus is reported.”
Sobaram said the university will save nearly $50,000 on costs of printing and mailing an estimated 10,000 permits every summer. However, he said the biggest benefit is convenience to students by not having to worry about displaying a parking permit at all times.
Kyra Williams, a senior studying English, commutes daily from her apartment about 3 miles from the Coral Gables campus. Although she said she’s never received a citation, she welcomes the idea of a virtual parking permit.
“If one day you didn’t have the hanger from your car, it would be super annoying to get a ticket since you have a pass, so I think the digital parking permits would actually be helpful,” Williams said.
However, not all students see the new initiative in a positive light.
“Digital parking will make it a lot easier to get parking tickets and will not really improve the experience,” said junior Andrea Trespalacios, an international studies major.
With the implementation of one new policy comes another. Florida is one of 18 states in the United States that only requires a license plate in the back of the vehicle, meaning that any vehicle parked backwards cannot be scanned.
So starting in spring 2018, cars will not be allowed to park backed into the parking spot. Students and faculty with larger cars who prefer to park backwards must visit the Parking and Transportation office to obtain a front plate to attach to the front of their cars with the sequence number of their permit. The license plate will cost between $15 and $20.
If a car is parked backwards without permission, the owner of the vehicle will receive a warning and an email to remind them of the new policy. If the vehicle is found in violation after being warned, the owner will be issued a citation.
“In two to three years from now, we would be behind in the times if we didn’t do this,” Sobaram said. “This is the trend in parking … Technology is moving now. This is the way of the future.”