Commuter students at the University of Connecticut say recent changes to the parking system are leaving them in a bad spot.
Before the fall semester began, the university changed Lot B from a commuter lot to an employee lot. Half of Lot Y was also reassigned from commuter to employee. As a result, students say commuter parking is harder to come by.
“We'd show up an hour before class and we'd still get late just driving around looking for parking. It's an absolute mess," said senior Gio Peraza.
Peraza said he missed a quiz during the first week of class because it took him so long to find a parking space.
Senior Kodylynn Perkins said the parking situation also made her late for class.
"I had to drive to three different commuter lots before I found a parking space," she said.
Other students told NBC Connecticut Investigates they often arrive to campus more than two hours early in order to secure a spot.
Students pay between $279 and $620 a year to park on campus.
Peraza said if he can’t find a spot, his options are to pay more to park in one of the garages on campus, or park illegally and risk getting a ticket.
"I think it's ridiculous that we're paying $300 and we're not even guaranteed a spot," he said.
University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said some of the changes were made to accommodate graduate assistants under a new contract. Reitz said many of those graduate assistants parked in Lot B last year with commuter passes.
“Now they have the right to park on employee passes, which they also pay for. And they're continuing to park in that lot,” Reitz said.
The university says they made other adjustments to accommodate the loss of commuter spots.
According to Reitz, the total number of student parking spots has not changed, but the university could not provide exact numbers.
"We don't sell one permit per every space. I mean, that would be unrealistic. Because you don't have 100 percent of your cars here 100 percent of the time. But we don't oversell,” said Reitz.
Reitz said the lots closer to campus fill up quickly. But C Lot, which is on the outskirts of campus, usually has plenty of available spaces. It is serviced by a shuttle bus, which runs every 12 to 24 minutes, according to the university.
Reitz said it’s not unusual for the university to reassess the parking situation at the beginning of the school year. But she does not anticipate any changes to the current system.
“I think it’s more a matter of planning and just being realistic about where can you expect to leave your car at the time that you’re arriving,” she said.
The Undergraduate Student Government and Transportation Services are holding a public forum to address students’ concerns on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in McHugh Hall 101.