Texas Tech is one of the first universities to go with a paperless parking system, and this means there is a large amount of technology involved with university parking.
Driving around campus, one might notice a few entry stations that are restrictive on where drivers can and cannot go.
For 16 years, Jeanne Jasper, entry station supervisor, has been watching the university evolve when it comes to this service.
“Before, when I started, it was a physical permit,” Jasper said.
Because students are not usually allowed to drive in the main university campus, she said, there was a need for a system capable of neatly organizing the various categories.
At each entry station, there is a computer system with a camera that is able to quickly scan the rear license plate of any vehicle, and within seconds send that information to the booth’s computer.
Various information is sent within those few seconds, Jasper said, including names, parking availability for each permit and also how many tickets one has accrued.
“If they’ve accumulated a lot, (the system) will tell us it’s a ‘hot sheet,’” she said. “Which means that they have accumulated a certain amount (of tickets) and they haven’t been addressed in any fashion.”
Depending on if the car stops at the station or drives through without the proper go-ahead, there lies the possibility of getting booted or getting another ticket, she said. It just depends on how many citations they have that have not been taken care of.
According to the Rules and Regulations section on the Parking Services website, vehicles with 10 or more parking violations run the risk of being impounded either by towing enforcement or an auto boot.
This is why it is always best just to park where a specific permit allows, she said.
Sometimes this can be tricky, especially when there are special events on campus, Bronwyn Hoeffner, event supervisor senior specialist, said. In her 10 years working for Parking Services, she has been charged with overlooking parking allocation to try and make sure there are spots available to both students and visitors.
“I’m actually just hoping people park,” she said. “I create, electronically, custom permits and I set up the event.”
It is usually summer events like camps and orientation that some people can have the most troubles with, Hoeffner said. She makes sure they get the available information and credentials in order for them not to get a citation.
At the beginning of each event, before they get to campus, she sends out a link to aid people in registering their vehicles, she said.
If it is a football or basketball game, Hoeffner said, they have to work especially thoroughly to ensure students with paid permits are not losing their spots, while still letting other visitors park.
Most days start around 7 a.m. for Parking Services for briefing with all eight staff members, Jasper said. They are given a schedule of the events of the day, which shows when and where events will be happening on campus.
“We fill everybody in on what’s going on,” she said.
The staff works under the umbrella of event and guest relations, Jasper said, and they are notified about all the happenings on the campus. They also have precise schedules that tell when a person or a group is expected to show up and for what reason.
When comparing parking control systems, Tech is one of the best, she said. It has been almost two years since the university has hosted the Midwest Parking Association Conference, which had visitors from all over the country inquiring about the system that is used on campus.
“We would definitely be top-notch because of this technology,” Jasper said. “We have other colleges (like) Missouri, Florida, over the past five years come in and visit.”
Because the people working in the booths are usually the first to greet visitors on the campus, it is important to be as cordial as possible, she said.
They can make or break someone’s visit, so the staff is encouraged to always be extremely helpful in giving directions or answering questions.
Even though parking can sometimes be looked on as a negative service, Hoeffner said, the employees try to emphasize great customer service as much as possible. Both she and Jasper said they tend to be open and talkative people, so getting along with visitors is generally easy.
“You have to know every minute detail here on the campus,” Jasper said. “They rarely stump us, but once in a while they even stump me.”