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Study aims to cut parking hassle

Finding parking on campus may be troubling for some students, but a current study by the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) may offer a solution.

Last month, CUTR began recruiting students to participate in an observational study and a speed study to collect data about how students find parking on campus.

Jonathan Summerlin, a student research assistant at CUTR leading recruitment efforts for the study, said 80 students have already signed up for the study, but he hopes to collect 100 students to take part in the study.

“We’re trying to figure out just how much it will reduce and take students’ time from parking,” Summerlin said.

Conducted by CUTR researchers, the study is part of a plan by the Office of Sustainability at USF and aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions on campus by eliminating unnecessary driving.

Last semester, College of Sustainability Dean Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy shared proposals at a Student Government Senate for new parking programs on campus.

In a previous article in The Oracle, CUTR and Office of Sustainability representatives said a “smart parking project,” which includes demos for new parking guidance systems and sensors to inform drivers how many parking spaces are available in a given lot via mobile app, is underway and as of last semester received $250,000 from the Student Green Energy Fund.

Summerlin said the proposed project and current study could potentially help students find spaces to park more efficiently.

“They’ll see there are only three spaces available in a parking lot, and won’t try to park there,” he said. “That way, it won’t take them all that time to look for parking… they’ll automatically look to go to another parking garage.”

Recruiting for the study began Jan. 20, Summerlin said. 

Students volunteering for the project attend 20-minute information sessions on how to collect their individual data and have been measuring their parking routines over the past two weeks.

During the information session, students receive a stopwatch from CUTR and instructions on how to accurately time their routine.

In the study, students time how long it takes to find a parking spot, starting from the time they get on campus, and include details about the order of parking lots and garages they attempted as well as the time and day they parked.

Summerlin said the earliest data shows varying times in finding parking on campus.

“Some have been as quick as five seconds and some as slow as 14 minutes,” he said. “It just really depends on the time of day they are parking and which lot they are trying.”

Summerlin also said the study will aim to find data from students parking around the Library, which he said is one of the busiest places for traffic on campus. These lots include 29A, 29B and the LeRoy Collins parking garage.

Jean Cocco, a Student Government senator and chairman of the University, Community and Government Affairs committee, said this project would help alleviate parking tension on campus.

“You look and it’s often very hard to find a spot… Sometimes you can be late to class because you were finding parking,” Cocco said. “This is a step in the right direction in helping students solve that trouble.”

Students interested in participating in CUTR’s study can contact Summerlin by emailing