At the stroke of midnight Monday morning, nearly 2,000 returning UM students logged into the parking permit application system and were placed in a waiting lobby.
The webpage said, “Your current position to enter the permit process is: 1,562.” Then 1,495. While about 600 students entered the application at a time, slowly but surely, that number trickled down for the rest of those waiting.
Although the launch of a “permit lobby” demonstrates the Department of Parking and Transportation’s efforts toward streamlining the often messy permit application process, there is room for improvement. When thousands of students log on to the system at the same time, they are bound to experience complications.
Many students waited one hour, two hours, or even longer to get their desired parking permits – and not without complication. Some were kicked off the system and lost their place in line. Junior Caroline Levens, for example, felt frustrated as the website kept logging her out and putting her back in the waiting room. She logged in at midnight but only purchased her permit at 4 a.m. Levens then had to wake up at 6 a.m. for her internship.
When many students have to wake up early in the morning for internships, jobs, or summer classes, it seems unfair and unnecessary to make them stay up past midnight in order to fight for a parking spot. Similar procedures at UM – like course registration, where a wide pool of students goes after limited spots in a class just like spots in a parking lot – have staggered appointment times in place. The parking permit process should, too. A lottery system allotting students designated times to log in throughout the day would avoid the congestion and allow students to purchase their permits faster and with less worry.
It is true that, during the summer, students and faculty are scattered around the country and globe, so it would be impossible to accommodate each person with the perfect appointment time. But almost 40 percent of the Class of 2016 is from Florida, according to data from the Office of Admissions’ website, and a majority of UM students live along the East Coast. Therefore, midnight Eastern Standard Time – before a long workweek – is not a convenient hour for most of those trying to buy a parking pass, either.
If appointment times are implemented, purchasing parking permits should run more smoothly. Not everyone will end up with their first-choice zone, but there’s still no guarantee with the current system. However, all people involved can be assured a shorter wait, fewer site crashes, and a full night of sleep.
But it’s up to more than the Department of Parking and Transportation to make a change. Students themselves can help fix the problem. Students who were not attempting to purchase one of the two most coveted color zones – purple or red – could have easily attained a permit during the day rather than clogging the application at midnight. While purple sold out within minutes and red was gone by 10 a.m., some pink zone spots remain, and yellow, gray, blue, and green are far less in demand.
Freshmen and new students will be purchasing permits Monday, once the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. In the meantime, UM can send out an email to those students about the expected availability of permits by zone. This will help students prepare accordingly to log in at an appropriate time. Mention the potential for 4-hour-long lines in the permit lobby if everyone tries to get in at once. We were warned for Hurricanes basketball games this year and the anticipation that ticketing would cause. Why not for parking?
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.