By Chris Acree–

Driving and parking on and around campus is a dicey prospect. Not only do you turn down streets hoping to get where you are going, but when you get there, you can only pray there might be a parking spot.

Every student has their own strategies for parking on and around campus. Say you are one of the burgeoning members of the one percent that can actually afford a parking pass, you still have to pick out which kind of pass you want. As anybody with a permit knows, possessing the little sticker or rearview mirror tag does not actually guarantee you a parking spot.

Perhaps you decide to take a shuttle from the stadium, a mode of transportation that can sometimes seem like it’s powered by an ancient steam engine or a team of horses on loan from nearby Churchill Downs. The relatively modest price of those permits is offset by the prohibitions on parking there during football games or other events.

“My junior year I took the Cardinal Shuttle and it added almost 25 minutes to my whole commute,” senior sociology major Alyssa Forsythe, a regular at the Floyd Street Garage, said. “I don’t have that kind of time. I need it to be close and convenient.”

You could forgo any parking pass at all and try to hike into campus from the vast surrounding urban wasteland. If the weather holds up, you aren’t running late and none of the nearby streets are closed for street sweeping, tree trimming or construction, then this might be your best option. But if it’s raining, snowing or you don’t necessarily have time to make the long, arduous journey, then you can find yourself questioning whether that exam is really that important.

You’re left with one other option: the Floyd Street parking garage.

Tucked in between the SAC, the train tracks, the Campus Safety offices, several athletic fields and Fightmaster Playground is the large, maze-like parking structure dedicated to permitted parkers of all stripes. However, in the bottom corner facing the SAC there are two levels of public parking, which prove to be some of the most popular on campus.

Rain or shine, no matter the time of day, this section of the garage is always jumping with all types of drivers including people with who are willing to shell out the daily coinage necessary to park there, people running late or people who simply need to run to the bookstore or the bursar’s office.

But like every other parking lot on campus, there’s a load of problems.

The first is the bane of all college students everywhere: the cost. Depending on how long you park there, you could be on the hook for as much as eight dollars for every time you use the garage. Depending on how many times you have to go to campus, that can turn into a major financial burden.

Junior Nathaniel Slater uses the lot four times a week for a couple hours a day. He’s a liberal studies major, but he can still do that math.

“It’s just under 20 bucks a week,” Slater said. “It adds up but I don’t really have an alternative. I got to hustle down here from my work 30 minutes away. All my classes are in close proximity to the garage. It’s either hustle down here, pay and get to class on time or be late.”

And just because you pull up to the garage doesn’t mean you’ll get an available spot. Sometimes the word “full” is emblazoned by the garage entrance, seeming to indicate that there are no more vacancies, but as I and many other drivers can attest, sometimes that sign can lie. Drivers pull in expecting an available spot but find themselves joining a long line of vehicles slowly puttering around the garage hoping to find a car getting ready to leave.

“Someone came out and I’m assuming they would have had to empty a spot.” Forsythe said. “But there was nothing so I had to leave and park by the Natatorium.”

Also if your search takes longer than five minutes, no matter how fruitless it is, you’re on the hook for a dollar of your hard-earned cash.

So, what’s up with that? Do they count the handicapped spots, which not only needs a regular handicapped tag but an official U of L handicapped permit?

The campus should not only make sure the public garage signals it’s full accurately; it should even expand the number of public parking spots.

I know the University of Louisville wants to suck its students dry. It is a college after all, but in this economy with legions of college-aged students pinching every penny then the more cheap, short-term parking a campus has the better.