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As students struggle to make it to class on time, UT insists there is enough parking for students and staff

"You don't really expect parking to be your number one battle," University of Tennessee sophomore Karsten Hoglund said.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Editor's Note: WBIR reached out multiple times for an interview with UT before this story aired. However, officials were unavailable to discuss the issue.

If time is money, some University of Tennessee students would say getting to class is costly.

Despite purchasing a parking permit for at least a couple hundred dollars, some students are arriving to class late or missing classes altogether because they can't find parking. 

"I spent about an hour and ended up just not showing up to one of my classes because I couldn't find a parking spot," UT junior Agustin Salas-Vaca explained.

"There is no parking at UT," sophomore Karsten Hoglund said. "It takes me roughly 45 to 50 minutes total finding a parking spot and getting to the university when I'm only five minutes away."

As a freshman, Hoglund was placed on a waitlist of more than 800 people searching for on-campus housing. Now a sophomore, he lives in an off-campus apartment but said the problems persist.

"You don't really expect parking to be your number one battle," Hoglund added. "You think your classes and finding friends is going to be your number one priority, but it's parking and housing."

Some students believe the university is over-issuing parking permits.

"We're becoming such a popular university. Everyone wants to come here, and I don't think UT was ready for such an influx of students from the country," Hoglund said.

The university acknowledges that the most convenient parking spots get taken quickly. However, spokesperson Kerry Gardner insisted in an email to WBIR that the university has enough parking.

Gardner wrote: 

"According to occupancy figures so far this semester, there is enough parking for students. Even at peak times, spots remain available in the Economy parking lots, which are served directly by the T campus transit system. On a dense campus with limited central areas for additional parking spaces and facilities, more parking is on the periphery served by shuttles. Historical trends have shown parking availability tends to improve over the first two to three weeks of the semester.

There are more than 19,000 parking spaces, including commuter, non-commuter, and staff and faculty spaces. There are 7,150 total spaces available to commuters and 13,094 permits sold as of the close of business August 28 for a ratio of 1.83. The campus guideline for spaces-to-permits, which is based on industry standards, is 1.85."

The university plans to work with Wood Consulting Group to take a look at the future of on-campus parking. "The university plans to work with a parking consultant to analyze our programs, evaluate the market, and help us to navigate the future," Gardner wrote.

UT also plans to launch a new app next school year that will provide real-time parking updates.

Garder also offered this information:

  • Students who arrive on campus after 10 a.m. should consider parking in an economy lot. Shuttles run to and from these lots. Shuttle maps and real-time parking locations can be found here.
  • Students can check parking availability in garages G10, G16 and G17 before they come to campus in the Tennessee smartphone app.
  • There are 24 parking areas on campus for commuter students with a proper permit. Students are encouraged to use maps.utk.edu and select the “parking” tab that identifies all campus parking areas.

More than 200 additional parking spots in the campus core are made available after Labor Day when parking garage and surface lot maintenance is completed, according to Gardner.

The university's "Donations for Citations" program allows students to get out of paying for a parking ticket, up to $32 maximum, by donating to the university's food pantries. The program can be utilized once per fiscal year per student.

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