words by Sierra Dawn McClain

While school, work and social life are among students’ most daunting challenges, parking may be the most grueling.  It’s expensive.  It’s hard to find a spot.  Sometimes it’s unsafe.

“I racked up $275.00 in parking tickets this year,” said an unnamed UO student.  “Trying to get to class is a nightmare if you make a mistake or park in the wrong place and get towed.”

Most parking is on the perimeter of campus, meaning a lengthy walk to class. Even if you score a space, parking at meters costs $2.00 per hour weekdays and $1.00 per hour weekends—which adds up quickly.

Many students find it more economical to get a parking permit: $33 monthly, or $297 per school year.   According to the UO Department of Parking and Transportation, 1,000 permits are issued to students annually.

But transportation is changing in Eugene, and the university’s parking situation may change as a result.

Ride-sharing programs Lyft and Uber have the green light to start operating in Eugene and Springfield.  Lyft had its debut Sept. 5, and Uber launched Sept. 6.  The University of Oregon has designated spots on campus for ride-hail pickups.  As a result, fewer students may need to bring cars to campus.

Brittany Quick-Warner, president and CEO of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, said Uber will provide a “critical [resource] for our university students.”

But cars aren’t the only way to travel.  This April, PeaceHealth Rides launched its bike sharing program.  Lindsay Hayward, the general manager for PeaceHealth Rides, said that Eugene—with its bike paths, active community and large student population—is ideal for bike sharing.

There is still work to do, but the university and city are striving to improve transportation. Lane Transit District offers free bus service to UO students and employees with ID. The UO’s Safe Ride and Designated Drive Shuttle programs help students get home safely, and the Access Shuttle serves disabled individuals.  UO car-share allows 24/7 rentals for members.

Despite these resources, the university’s transportation problems are far from solved.

“I think the biggest issues for commuters are cost and safety,” said UO student Elizabeth Figlio, who has worked for the UO Campus Shuttle and volunteered for Safe Ride.  “Campus parking passes are expensive, and if a student doesn’t drive to and from campus, they run the risk of getting robbed or attacked, or their bike being stolen.”

Figlio thinks a centrally-located campus parking structure would make passes cheaper and spots more accessible.  But until the system changes, students will have to commute and park strategically.

Avoid Parking Tickets 

Get a parking permit at the UO Parking and Transportation office.

Carpool: cheaper permits are available for carpool groups.

Check out the Peacehealth Rides bikeshare and download the app to your phone.

Get Uber or Lyft. Find a map of  the ride-hail locations on campus by visiting www.uoregon.edu/maps.