On some days the University of Maryland police leave tickets on as many as 1,500 illegally parked cars. On the peak days "every parking space on campus is filled and there's probably an additional 1,000 cars on campus," said Roy Berry, director of the university's motor vehicle administration.
The unnerving battle over limited student parking has waged fiercely on the University of Maryland campus for the past five years, intensifying each semester with increased enrollment and a gradual decline in available parking spaces. Berry said 34,500 student cars and 8,000 faculty and administration cars have been registered for use on campus. The available parking spaces total 10,000 for students and 8,000 for faculty, administration and visitors.
But Berry cautioned that these figures present a distorted view of the situation since not all cars are on campus at the same time. The peak loads occur on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., he explained.
He said there is an immediate need for 1,600 additional parking spaces. But students contend that the ratio seems more like four cars competing for every available space.
In student parking lot No. 4 on the far northeastern edge of the campus, drivers do battle with one another for the few spaces that become available near the lot's front.
After expectantly circling the front of the lot several times, many drivers give up in disgust and head for the far end of the 15-acre lot where spaces are plentiful but the frozen walk to the center of campus in the bitterly cold weather is more than a mile.
The more defiant drivers park on the grass or sneak into a close lot "and then run out right after class and move their cars before they get tickets," Brian Savage, Bowie sophomore, explained. Getting caught will cost them form $15 to $25.
University records reveal a high casualty rate for risk takers. During fiscal year 1976 (July 1, 1975 to June 30, 1976), university police handed out 170,000 tickets, sometimes issuing as many as 1,500 a day. The tickets generated $500,000 in revenue.
"The distance bugs me," complained Robyn S. Quinter, Brookville senior. "Especially on these mornings when it's cold and slippery. Considering how much you have to pay for parking ($12 a year), there could be some provisions made."
Berry resents being "on the firing line" between angry students yelling about parking tickets and campus planners who have failed to come up with a solution to the university's growing traffic problem.
"A lot of people have taken a lot of pleasure in pointing the finger at me and saying I'm responsible for parking, period," he related. "But that's a lot of bull. I'm only responsible for administratering the parking we have now, and I'm not a magician. I can only put one car in each space. When I go and talk to a planner, I get all this crap about how nice It's gonna be in 10 years. But I've needed some immediate solutions for the past three years which they haven't been very good at coming up with."
The transportation studies center at the university is in the midst of a comprehensive transportation study of the demands on the present system. Dr. Everett V. Carter, director of the transportation center and chairman of the department of civil engineering, said the study will consider all alternative, including "whether we should be discouraging driving." A draft of the study's initial recommendations will be formulated by April, Dr. Cater said.
He said the study already has come up with a method to obtain an additional 150-plus parking spaces in a section of parking lot No. 1 simply by changing the layout from 90-degree parking to angle parking and decreasing the width of the aisles because "you don't need a very wide aisle to drive into an angle space."
Lot No. 1 is the largest of the outlying parking lots, containing nearly 3,000 parking spaces, but only one-third of the total area of the lot has been analyzed. The layouts of the remainder of Lot No. 1 and Lots 3, 4 and 7 also will be studied, Carter said.
Berry favors building a 1,600-space surface parking lot on the far edge of the campus and converting the present shuttle bus system to an intra-campus system connecting parking lots and campus buildings.
Presently, the university-operated shuttle system runs seven buses twice hourly between the campus and nearby off-campus apartment complexes where students are concentrated. Ending the off-campus service could prove unpopular with students. Glenn McCally, Lutherville senior and assistant coordinator of the shuttle system, said off-campus service began last spring and ridership doubled over the summer months. Increased usage forced an expansion from four to seven buses last fall, he added.
Sylvia Stewart, director of the office of commuter services, which overseas the shuttle system, said four additional buses would be needed to service the parking lots and continue the off-campus routes. But she expressed doubts about the university's willingness to fund this expansion of the program.
The system presently runs on a $148,600 operational budget, she said, and the equipment outlay for the purchase of nine buses and four vans totaled $250,000. Stewart refused to calculate what expansion to serve the outlying parking lots would cost.
Construction of parking lots use concerns, Berry admitted. Students tend to favor multi-level parking garages located close to the center of campus, he said. But this type of parking facility is at least 10 times more expensive than the surface parking lot and could result in an increase in the $12 yearly parking fee.
"We would like to see the administration paying for their parking," said Stuart Hersh, Silver Spring senior and president of the University Commuters Association. "University faculty and staff get for free parking spaces close in while students are stuck out in the sticks in Lot 4. Close-in spaces should cost more than spaces out in Lot. 4."