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Exploring UMBC’s parking predicament

This fall marks the first time that UMBC has tried using an alternative parking permit method. Instead of the usual hang tags that are placed on your rearview mirror, all commuters and residents have to do now is digitally request and be granted a virtual parking pass. While the number of students with permits has increased greatly, the number of parking spots has not been adjusted appropriately to accommodate all of the new vehicles. This leaves commuters two options: circle the parking lots until they find a space or find an alternative transportation method.

UMBC Parking Services recently posted a short article called “Fall Semester Commuter Student Parking Tips” in the wake of the parking dilemma. Tips include getting your parking permit, getting to campus early to have enough time to find parking, carpooling and a reminder that Lots 22, 25, 29 and the Stadium Lot are good places to find spots when parking is most difficult to find during the day.

One option is taking the UMBC shuttle buses. The buses are free of cost to students, have six routes, run frequently and have extensive operating hours. Routes include Courtney Road, Arundel, Catonsville, Arbutus/MARC, Route 40 and Downtown buses. The buses come, on average, once or twice an hour from about 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., depending on the route. They also run on weekends, although much less frequently. Not only are the buses useful for commuting to and from campus, but also for leisure purposes, getting groceries and more.

There is also a tracking app for the UMBC buses, Rider, but it is not always accurate, so it must be used in conjunction with the bus timetables.

Another public transportation option is buying an MTA bus pass. Off-Campus Student Services, or OCSS, is located in The Commons and sells monthly MTA passes for $52.90. The MTA All Access College Transit Pass can be used for unlimited trips on the MTA Local Bus, Light Rail and Metro Subway.

Zimride is a ridesharing/carpooling service that exclusively serves UMBC students, staff and faculty. Akin to services like Uber and Lyft, Zimride drivers get paid for their transportation services, riders can “request” a ride and drivers can “post” a ride when they are ready to drive. All carpoolers may park in Lot 4, “Casual Carpool,” before 10:30 a.m.

Zipcar, a better-known name, is a car-borrowing service that has two locations on campus, one at the Administration Drive Garage and the other by Susquehanna Hall. The company charges a per-hour fee, as well as a per-day fee. An upside to the per-day deal is that the cost includes 180 miles per day, gas, and insurance. Their college student program, Students with Drive, offers scholarships, group donations and Zipcar credit.

Electric vehicle users can make use of UMBC’s two charging spots in the Stadium Lot which can be used free of charge. Furthermore, UMBC has numerous bike racks throughout campus along with a bikeshare program, RetrieverFleet. All staff, faculty, and students are eligible for the program, a single-day free bike rental from the RAC. However, each day that the bike is not returned will cost $17.

Community members can find more information about transportation options via UMBC’s website.