• TheDMonline.com Staff Member?
  • Log In
Share |

How to incentivize the O.U.T. bus: repeal parking rules

Let me begin this column with a disclaimer: I am not the kind of writer that typically devotes an entire column to complaining about the parking situation on campus.
Frankly, I always find an ample amount of parking by the baseball fields and behind the Ford Center, and choose to park there leisurely instead of fighting for spots behind the Tad Pad with a hundred other students. Sure, it is a little far from the library and some of my classes, but I don’t mind walking.
I find the entire premise of this column to be slightly amusing because, up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t have a parking pass at all … I rode the bus.
I want you to note how that last sentence is past tense. Why did I decide to stop using public transportation and drive to campus, you might ask? Well, it wasn’t because the O.U.T. bus never runs on schedule (which is true), or because the Green Line, so crowded at peak hours that the bus will sometimes pass your stop completely (which is also true, and is particularly frustrating when you have been waiting at the stop for over 20 minutes).  Even with the inefficiencies in the system, I found the bus to be a convenient alternative to driving. It was free, and I could walk out of the door of my condo at Turnberry, catch the bus, and make it to the Student Union in about 20 minutes.
The bus itself was not the problem in the end. As much as I hate to admit it, the reason why I abandoned the O.U.T. system was because of a Parking Services policy.
I am on campus until 10 p.m. at least four days a week, whether it is to work at the Croft Institute, go to my night class, attend speaker series, or to study. Since the O.U.T. bus stops running at 6, I would always run home and bring the car on campus after 5, when open parking is permitted.
Or so I thought.
Earlier this month, I was completely surprised when I was ticketed in the Circle at 7:40 p.m. The reason? Parking without a decal.
 I didn’t buy a parking pass at the beginning of the year. Why would I spend $85 on a commuter decal when I planned on using the bus every day? Besides, I was under the impression—the same impression that I had been under since freshman year—that you didn’t need a pass at all to park on campus after 5 p.m.
I understand that I am in the wrong for not reading the fine print of the Parking Services policy. Nevertheless, I find the need to have a decal in order to park on campus after business hours to be absolutely ridiculous. We are encouraged to use the bus during the day, and it is advertised online as a great option to “save money on gas” and “avoid parking hassles”. But with the Green Line shutting down at 6 p.m. and ticketing cars after 5 p.m., the worker at Parking Services told me I had two options: buy a decal with a $10 late fee, or walk home every night.
Now, anyone who lives off Old Taylor Road knows how dangerous the bridge over Highway 6 is for pedestrians, and I am honestly surprised that no one has been killed while trying to cross. Walking home (at night, no less!) was completely out of the question for me, so I sucked it up, pulled out my wallet, and bought a commuter decal for $95.
I haven’t used the bus since.
Again, I know getting a ticket was my own fault. It was my responsibility to read and understand the fine print, and I failed to do so. That being said, if Ole Miss seriously wants to incentivize students to use the O.U.T. bus during the day in order to alleviate pressure on Parking Services, I believe that the decal requirement to park on campus after 5 p.m. should be at least revised, if not completely repealed.

Lexi Thoman is senior international studies and Spanish double-major from St. Louis, Mo.