Parking and transportation master plan in the works

In the midst of parking woes, university expansion and building construction, a plan to increase parking on campus is in the works. This plan is the Parking Transportation Master Plan, a 10-year plan which Assistant Planner Candace Mastel says “will hopefully be [finalized] by next September.”

What we are trying to do is work out parking and transportation as a dual relationship. This is as much about bikes and pedestrians as it is with single occupancy vehicles,” Mastel said. “We’re on this verge of some big changes. That’s exciting, but it brings with it issues about how we fit everybody into the same space.

One of the four goals of the plan is to reduce the number of single occupant vehicles. Mastel hopes that “this plan will inspire people to think outside the box.” She also wants people to “think about others. Don’t think about your tenure here as a student for the next four years, but think about what this campus looks like in the next 100 years.” Mastel referenced students who live very close to campus but still drive to school. The plan hopes to encourage those commuters to consider the alternatives. “These are people who can walk or bike,” Mastel said, “and they can save themselves a lot of money. That’s money to do fun things like go out to eat or go on spring break trips.” The price for a regular SB pass costs $177.

Another goal is to protect the existing parking facility investments. Currently, there are 33 parking spaces per 100 students and faculty. “We are trying to see, with our future growth, if [the ratio] should stay steady, or should it change. Should it become more in the favor of people parking, or more in the favor of other opportunities?”

Currently, almost all of the parking lots see a 100 percent utilization during class hours. Because of this, people find it very hard, if not impossible, to leave during the day. Either to go shopping, or to care for their family. “Moms who have family issues cannot go home because they cannot find parking when they leave in the middle of the day,” Mastel said. She added that  lots tend to fill up at 7:40 a.m. and stay full throughout the day.

The other two goals are to enhance mobility for MSU’s employees, faculty, students and visitors and to improve multimodal connectivity between the campus and off campus destinations. Or, to make it easier to travel about both on and off campus. This could mean things like parking shuttles or bike lanes.

While some may see this plan as a way to simply encourage people to carpool, Mastel says it is much more. “I think the important takeaway is that it is about options. It’s not about denying anybody anything. You have to be willing to make changes in your life to use those other modes [of transportation], but they are usually really good improvements in your life. It’s about choices, not about penalizing people, and that’s the focus of this plan.”

Candace Mastel can be reached with questions at candace.mastel@montana.edu or by phone at (406) 994-7457.

  • taylor

    Based on the data collected by the consultant developing the plan, at the peak parking time, there are 859 open spots on campus. That does not include the east stadium lot which is another 400 spaces. So at the very highest demand times there are over 1200 spaces unused. There is plenty of parking available. It may not be exactly where people want it. There are options besides building more parking.