Undergraduate students will not be permitted to have a vehicle on campus during the academic year, including on holidays and weekends, according to a new Undergraduate Student Parking Policy announced by Transportation & Parking Services.
This new policy will be effective starting September 2016.
Kim Jackson, director of Transportation & Parking Services, deferred comment to Daniel Day, assistant vice president of the Office of Communications.
“The decision on student parking was made in the larger context of the University’s campus planning initiative to study and plan how best to use University space over the next decade. That effort includes reviewing the ways people come to navigate the campus,” Day said.
Day said that this new parking policy is a part of the University’s Transportation & Parking Services initiative to institute a range of sustainability options that also includes “reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles on campus and shifting the campus culture to one that puts more emphasis on public transit, bicycling and other means of transportation.”
According to Day, people ranging from TPS officials to undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff as well as representatives of the Undergraduate Student Government, the University Student Life Committee and Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students were involved in this decision.
Jenny Zhang ’18, USGUniversity Student Life Committee chair,said that this was first brought to her attention at the monthly USLC meeting which includes faculty members such as Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun. She noted that although no USG member was involved with the original decision making process, she has worked with USG president Aleksandra Czulak '17 to discuss agenda items and have been aware of changes occurring.
Zhang said that two main factors led to the decision: space and sustainability. In improving campus life, student safety was also another concern that is being taken into account.
"As Princeton is expanding, University architects and faculty committees are trying to figure out the best way to utilize the land Princeton owns in a way that would most benefit the students," she said.
She said that the University is trying to create a more bike friendly and sustainable campus, as seen through the Zagster bike share program. The program has been well received and successful, she added.
"Furthermore, reducing the number of unnecessary cars would improve students' safety since there would be less traffic on pedestrian-heavy streets such as Elm Drive," she said.
She added that while she could not speak on behalf of the entire USG, she personally supports the change as it is a step towards making the campus more sustainable.
"As a student here, I've noticed that most people either walk or bike between classes," she said. "Since Princeton is a fairly small campus, there's not much need for a car."
She added that the University'sTransportation and Parking Services division does a good job of providing other methods of transportation such as on-demand buses and weekend shuttles to malls and plazas. Zhang said that the Princeton station is located across from Forbes, which makes travel to distant locations convenient.
"Rather than having cars sit for a year in the parking lot only to be driven once or twice, I think it's a better use of space to provide the permit for those who really do need to use cars," she said.
Day said that the current parking exemption policy will remain unchanged and only undergraduates demonstrating “compelling need – such as medical or job-related requirement – may request permission to register a vehicle and be eligible for campus parking.”
According to Day, the number of undergraduate student cars on campus has been declining. For example, in 2012-13, undergraduate students registered 453 cars while this academic year the number has been recorded at 290, according to the Office of Communications.
As the number of students registering vehicles declines, the University has simultaneously increased transportation options in order to continue to eliminate the need for student cars of campus. A few weeks ago, the University launched the Zagster bike share program.
“In addition to existing programs like the Saturday Shopper and access to many NJ Transit routes to area destinations and beyond, we've improved TigerTransit routes and bus locator technology, introduced a mobile app for on-demand bus service, started the UMatter bus service and increased the number of Enterprise CareShare vehicles,” Day said, about the measures and accessibility of the University to local means of transportation.
However, multiple students voiced concerns about the new regulation.
Paul Tupper ’17 said that he was disappointed in the manner in which the University and administration handled the situation.
"I am amazed that the University would have the audacity to put this on their website without notifying students with cars. This is truly reprehensible and inconsiderate. I have a car on campus for the sole purpose of going to church every Sunday – and to deny me of this – I believe would be unimaginable,” Sara Goodwin ’18 said.
Amanda Muliawan ’16, who has a car on campus, noted that she believes having a car on campus has certain benefits.
“I don't necessarily need it on a daily basis, but there's definitely an element of freedom that comes with it,” she said.