On-campus parking is a commodity for faculty, staff and students. Accommodating additional parking for visitors attending campus tours, fine arts performances or large sporting events can be quite challenging. At the University of Arizona, Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) coordinates parking for over 250 campus events each year. The Special Events staff assists with parking advice, suggestions and arrangements for events, banquets, workshops, ceremonies, meetings, performances, and conferences.
When planning an event on campus, where your guests will park is an important part of the planning process. Most campuses offer different options for visitor parking such as meters, short term visitor lots and visitor parking in pay parking garages. Most of these locations have a limited number of parking spaces and do not guarantee the stall will be available to visitors as they drive up without prior reservations. When considering whether there is a need to make prior arrangements, we request that events bringing 75 or more vehicles to a specific location contact Special Event Operations. In most cases, we can discuss parking reservations, lot monitors, pre-paid parking passes, and alternative options for your group. In some cases, non-traditional areas will be used as parking locations for your events such as off-site lots, lawns, unused sporting fields or concrete pads. For an additional fee, we can add to the experience by providing a large van or golf cart shuttle service to escort your guests from their parking location to the event.
How We Prepare a Reserved Parking Area
Event parking isn’t regular parking. Most of the time, the areas used are lots and spaces that regular or permit holders use to park. To prepare for large groups of vehicles parking in lots or garages, there are courteous notifications given to “regular” parking permit holders. It may be in the form of an email blast to the permit holder, flyers on the windshield or simple signage on message boards or signs on stanchions at garage and lot entrances. It is especially helpful when notification is sent several days in advance. This helps to notify regular parkers to clear the section needed due to the event and also to give them extra time to get to another parking location.
When signage messaging is clear, it will reduce the number of calls inquiring about the displacement. It is imperative to be clear and consistent in your messaging and methods of notifying customers. It is also important to provide customized directional signage for lots and garages on event days for guests. These signs should provide parking directions, instructions for restricted or closed parking areas, and if a permit or fee is required.
If an event chooses not to make prior arrangements for their guests, it is still great customer service to provide the event with alternate methods of getting to campus, how to use visitor parking locations and providing visitor maps and an informational website address for their guest. We inform the event planner to be aware of events already happening on campus and the potential traffic obstacles their guests may encounter.
Being aware of all events on campus allows PTS to better manage the limited parking available. Whether reservations are made or not, parking information is provided to staff on the special events calendar and in an internal weekly memo. The weekly memo is shared with all of our parking employees, UA departments and various campus neighbors. The information provided in the memo helps our garage, field, and enforcement employees to be aware of increases in motor vehicle traffic, pedestrians and visitors. This memo also helps the campus police to recognize when there is unauthorized event activity in lots, garages and lawns.
Lastly, parking event monitors are scheduled to secure reserved spaces and to provide information on alternate parking locations for those required to relocate. The monitors offer person to person interaction and peace of mind to the event planners by knowing their guests will have accommodations when coming to their campus event.
By Elisa Tapia, University of Arizona