Parking changes prompt pushback and student petition

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Lehigh’s new Connections transit and parking plan has spurred discontent among students.

The planinitiated on July 1, is part of Lehigh’s long-term effort to encourage more pedestrian traffic on campus. New regulations restrict student use of Mountaintop Campus lots and the Farrington Square parking garage. The plan also limits faculty and staff parking in Packer Campus lots.

Faculty, staff and students living off-campus have the option to park for free in the Goodman Commuter Lot or Founders Way Commuter Lot near SteelStacks. Both lots require additional transportation on the Campus Connector Founders Way Express bus routes to get to academic buildings. 

Metered parking spots on campus and certain parking lots reserved for faculty and staff from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday were removed and are now designated for authorized vehicles. Commuter passes, priced at $86 for the academic year, are required to park in certain spots on campus during evenings and weekends. Residential and Greek life permits cost $433 for the year.

More than 600 individuals are petitioning for the university to reinstate student parking on Mountaintop. The petition was created by Mikayla Hymanson, ‘21, who said she completes the majority of her design curriculum at Building C. When she leaves for class, she decides between an irregular bus schedule or an extra parking fee in metered spots.

“I already pay over $400 for a parking pass for (Packer) campus,” Hymanson said. “But it’s pretty hard to take the bus too. My professors have had to push class start time back at least 15 to 20 minutes because people are always late, right off the bus.”

Hymanson’s petition said the university’s changes in parking are inconsistent with its newly-increased tuition costs and the size of its endowment fund.

Hymanson frequently finds empty lots on her trips to the satellite campus. 

She said the school should be concerned with leaving students on satellite campuses without transportation during snowstorms. 

“Lehigh doesn’t really cancel class until two or three o’clock,” she said. “People have been stranded at Mountaintop.”

The current Connections plan has prompted other safety concerns. While new Campus Connector bus routes have extended Lehigh transit’s reach into South Bethlehem, busses only travel as far west as Alumni Memorial and as far east as Whitaker Hall.

From 8 p.m. until 6:30 a.m., scheduled 30-minute gaps separate visits from the two remaining buses that shuttle students around Lehigh’s three campuses. Students who cross the campus at night must either wait for a bus or walk.

Alexandra Arp, ‘21, said the new plan has made her feel unsafe at night. She walks 10 minutes from the free overnight parking on Montclair Avenue to her Farrington Square apartment, often on unlit streets during the night. 

“Parking is the biggest nightmare of this school year,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair that I have to walk a great distance off-campus to get my parking spot. I have to go to Goodman three times a week for rugby practice, so I’m constantly using my car. I can’t just take the bus system.”

Arp said she sought help from LUPD Chief Jason Schiffer to add lighting to streets surrounding Lehigh’s campus. She is now working with Schiffer to make these changes.

Bus shelters were recently constructed at the STEPS and Whitaker stops as part of the plan’s improvements.  

A recently-released university survey sought student feedback on the Connections plan to adjust its current implementation. The open-ended survey allowed users to provide their contact information so the university can conduct future dialogue. 

Bob Bruneio, manager of Lehigh’s Transportation Services, said the survey’s results should be released in late October or early November, and the university plans to make changes to the current system this year. 

“I know people are upset because of the parking situation,” Bruneio said. “Be constructive, tell us what you need.”

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2 Comments

  1. Smart Business Student on

    Lehigh Parking Services is the most corrupt organization at our school. Every time I drive down from my residence on the hill, I notice dozens of vacant “authorized vehicle” spots. I have even gone out of my way to check on who’s cars are parked in the authorized vehicle zones. These cars belong to the construction workers who are building the new building on the old KD lot. Here is where the irony kicks in. The smart people who run Lehigh (so smart that their degrees, if they even have degrees, are from worse places than Lehigh) think its in the best interest of the school to have US THE STUDENTS park at Goodman and take the bus down to Asa Packer campus, but let the construction workers (who don’t even use their car one they start working), park right near the job. It is quite easy for all the workers to park at Goodman and take 1 bus collectively down to their site.

    Now I consider myself to be relatively wealthy, enough to be willing to park illegally and pay the parking tickets. I’ve received maybe 4 at this point for parking in “authorized vehicle spots”. Here is how I view it. Lehigh, who prides itself on being a student focused institution, clearly prioritizes third party blue collar workers who aren’t paying $65,000 tuition, as well as stressing out students who need to get from point A to point B within 10 minutes.

    Over the course of the this semester and the next, I’ll probably accumulate 15-25 parking tickets totaling to $500-$700. I also sometimes pay the meters on Packer avenue, but Lehigh has turned Parking into something only accessible to the wealthy. 50% of students at our school are on financial aid and clearly cannot afford this.

    I view these parking expenses as my forever donation to Lehigh, because they will never get another dime of mine in any form.

    I have had the most positive experience ever at this institution up until this moment, but if they are too greedy to be taking away parking spots and then mercilessly ding the students every time they park illegally, then they don’t deserve to be considered a top tier university.

    Shame on you parking services. Shame on you Lehigh Admin.

  2. MrAnonymousStudent on

    The new ‘connections’ scheme is probably the most ill-conceived policy I have ever thought possible from transportation and parking services. Students (myself included) have to walk TWENTY MINUTES to the closest approved parking area near my residency, where in previous years, it would have only been a one minute walk (I’m talking about Farrington).

    Listen up, TPS. If you are intentionally trying to make it as difficult as possible for students to have their own vehicles on campus, be honest and announce it directly instead of cowardly hiding behind subterfuge that makes it seem like TPS has lost every ounce of integrity they ever had. The amount of restrictions implemented this year without any sort of explanation is mind boggling, and it makes it obvious that this was done entirely out of a financial motivation. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the number of citation-issuing patrol vehicles constantly making rounds have noticeably increased. And the fact that the permits themselves are more expensive than ever before

    If another debacle happens with the bus system like last year during the two snowiest weeks of the year, don’t be surprised if the number of student fall injuries dramatically increases.

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