What is wrong with IUPUI parking?

UPDATE: On Sept. 24, IUPUI Parking sent an email to students stating the following;

“Great news! You spoke and we listened. The Sports Garage is now available for ‘ST’ student parking permits.”

While this sounds like great news, it is misleading of IUPUI Parking to say “The Sports Garage is now available” since students have been allowed to park there since Sept. 7, when IUPUI Parking announced the availability of those spots on Twitter.

Additionally, this announcement was coupled with that of the closing of Lot 58 and Riverwalk Garage.


Original Story    


Students at IUPUI complain about a lot of things: classes, homework, and teachers. But if there is one problem at the forefront for the 30,105 students and over 2,500 faculty members of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis it's the continued problems with parking, which are worse than ever this year. With 3,622 incoming freshman, construction, and a host of changes to existing parking lots, it’s no surprise that parking is still a problem.

Photo by David Schroeder

Photo by David Schroeder

According to IUPUI Campus Statistics there are over 500 fewer students on campus this semester than last fall. Despite this decline in student enrollment, parking has been more difficult to find than ever.

Construction on New York Street had closed the Sports garage, until recently when two of the five floors were re-opened for student use. Additional construction in lot 58 began Sept. 21, causing 15 more EM spaces to be out of service. Parking this semester has been strained to say the least.

On Oct. 17, 2013, IUPUI reported that the IU Board of Trustees President, Michael A. McRobbie, had a plan to prevent the privatization of parking on IU’s two most important campuses, Bloomington and Indianapolis.

Parking was restructured in 2014. IUPUI left the A, B, E, and OP/IA system of parking. “E” parking was similar to “ST” parking, but it was over $100 cheaper and had more spaces available. In 2015, prices rose by another $30 without explanation.

“Campus lots and garages are full. Please head to the North Campus lots and shuttle in,” @IUPUIPARK tweeted on Aug. 24. There were many tweets of this nature during the first two weeks of the semester, when lot counts are kept.


Even students who purchased an ST pass for $372 per year found that their passes did not guarantee them a space on campus.

The Campus Citizen reached out to parking services multiple times via email, by phone, and in person and could not get any information on the number of spaces or the number of permits sold. But it is clear that more permits were sold than there are spaces available.

Students report spending up to an hour driving around campus looking for a place to park. This waste of time causes students to be tardy and has caused at least one student to return home without attending class at all.

Parking has been a challenge for this commuter college for years, but the changes that have been put in place have only made things worse.

“We will make improvements to our existing parking operations that will result in additional revenue to the university,” McRobbie said in 2013.

These “improvements” included, but were not limited to, changing signage and turning parking garages into housing, depleting the available parking spots even further.

McRobbie’s plan was to create a market-based, campus-specific parking fee. With this system, “ST” permits are $145.20 per year for Bloomington and $372 per year for Indianapolis.

The $372 per year is reasonable compared to parking lots in Indianapolis. The cheapest lots in the city are $60 a month and they go up substantially in price from there. The problem is that IUPUI is a public college and not a privatized parking that exists in the free market of downtown Indy.

Colleges in the nearby area do not charge even close to the rates that IUPUI charges its students.

The price for a parking pass at the Fall Creek campus of Ivy Tech is free.

Parking is also free at University of Indianapolis.

Butler’s parking ranges from $100 to $225 per year for students. Marian University charges students $220 per year. Purdue charges students $100 to $250 per year for students.

Kami Hess, a junior at IUPUI, emailed Parking Permits at IUPUI to ask why the price of parking has increased and the number of spaces available for students has gone down.

“The Board of Trustees set the parking prices each year by reviewing the prices of our peers at similar Universities.” Parking responded in an email to Kami Hess. “With that in mind, the students have been the focus of new parking initiatives.”

Unsatisfied with their answer Hess vented her frustrations to her friends and hopes to see IUPUI change its parking system.

Photo by David Schroeder

“Speaking for all IUPUI students and employees, parking is just a huge scam,” Hess said. “They say students are the priority, but they know we are broke and still charge an arm and a leg for the passes.”

It’s not just students who are frustrated by parking at IUPUI. Jane Schultz, Professor of English and Director of Literature, who has taught at IUPUI for 28 years has noticed the change for the worse. Schultz has to pay $510 a year for an EM parking pass.

This is a change that affects everyone who parks at IUPUI. Schultz said that on the old A, B, E system she purchased a B pass simply because she did not want to pay a premium for an A pass; now she is forced to pay the premium fee for an EM space. Despite paying so much, she still has trouble finding a space. Schultz reports regularly spending 20 minutes searching for a space.

“[Parking] at IUPUI has always been bad, but it’s worse now,” Schultz said. “Over the time I’ve been here I’m sure that I have lost scores of hours of productivity looking for spaces or walking to my office. I’ve had to park so far away that I am unsure of my safety at night, and what a shame that the university has made it so that I lose all of that productivity.”

Students living in campus housing are having problems with parking this year too. Although CH (campus housing) passes are $564, they aren’t guaranteed for all of those living in campus housing.

Ashley Kleinkart, a senior, found out she was No. 24 on the waitlist to get a CH pass and had the option of an NC or a reserved pass instead. When parking services sold out of spaces for students living in housing, baffled, Ashley emailed parking services and was told that if she wanted a spot in lot 66 by Riverwalk she would have to pay $660 for a reserved pass. Instead she bought a pass in September, which was prorated to only $528 for the semester. 

Even with a reserved space Kleinkart has had trouble with parking. She was given a cone to block off her spot when she isn't parked there, but the cone has not stopped everyone and she was forced to tow three cars on the first three days of the semester. Kleinkart feels bad about it, but after spending over $500 for three months of parking she deserves to have her spot guaranteed.

“I’m obviously frustrated with parking compared to my freshman year. It was easy, but now it is out of control,” Kleinkart said.

With the sticker shock of parking, one wonders where the money goes.

“It would be great if parking services could make more transparent what their profits are. It would make people more sympathetic towards them if we knew where the money was going,” Schultz said.

We reached out to Parking Services multiple times for a statement, but they did not get back with us.


From: Permits@iupui.edu <permits@iupui.edu>
Sent: Monday, August 3, 2015 6:15 PM
To: Hess, Kami Lynn
Subject: RE: parking prices

Hi Kami-

Thank you for contacting us. The Board of Trustees set the parking prices each year by reviewing the prices of our peers at similar Universities. With that in mind, the students have been the focus of new parking initiatives. To try and help ensure that students had easier access to parking, there are garages that are only for students.  Employees can't park in these garages. While you may not see a surface space right away, the student garages are always available to accommodate our students. Last year, the Gateway garage always had openings, so to help cut back on the inconvenience of looking for a space, check there first.  If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to let us know.

Thank you!
IUPUI Parking Services

-----Original Message-----
From: Hess, Kami Lynn 
Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2015 4:57 PM
To: Permits@iupui.edu
Subject: parking prices

To whom this may concern,
I was just curious, it seems to me that parking prices are more this year. In regards to that I am wondering why since a parking lot just got taken away to build apartments. Are these ST spaces going to be made up someplace else? Last year the lot across the street got changed from half student/half employee to all employee and then was never filled.
I don't know how IUPUI can keep taking our spaces away when they are already slim and raise the price.
Out of all college campus IUPUI by far has the most expensive parking.
Thank you for your time,
Kami Hess