The Parking Issue in the Vicinity of American University of Armenia
Author: Tatevik Simonyan
This policy paper discusses the parking space issue in the vicinity of American University of Armenia (AUA). The paper aims at voicing the shortage of parking lots on the campus and by bringing various examples, tries to highlight the need to construct a new parking lot only for AUA students and faculty. The lack of parking lots around campus territory creates some inconvenience for the students, the faculty, staff, etc. The paper argues that the shortage of parking lots makes the students face inconvenience, violates AUA parking policy and allows non-AUA students to use the parking space constructed for the students. The paper emphasizes the argument that the university can take into consideration the issues mentioned in the paper regarding the lack of parking space and choose one of the alternative solutions provided in the paper. The study concludes by offering the most convenient and effective policy recommendation to solve the parking issue in AUA vicinity.
It is challenging to find a free parking space during the class hours in the vicinity of American University of Armenia (AUA). The lack of available parking space and parking lots around AUA causes inconvenience both for the students and the faculty staff. There are only two parking lots on the campus: for the students and for the professors. However, these parking lots are very small, and because of the lack of parking space, students spend lots of time around the campus and sometimes are late from classes. This, in turn, creates traffic jams in the territory of campus. All these lead to the violation of the parking policy of the university as some students park their cars wherever they want (especially near the café in front of the university, or on the non-proper spaces for the parking, etc.). So the issue that the paper addresses is the lack of available parking spaces on the campus and near it. The stakeholders of this issue are first and foremost are the students, the faculty staff, who every day face the issue. The Yerevan municipality, AUA administration, the police, and people living in the university’s neighborhood are also stakeholders in this issue. The key controversies regarding the problem are the fact that the available parking lot is sufficient for the students, or the way to encourage the students to use public transportation to reach the university. The paper offers several possible solutions to the parking lot issue. It offers rewards and prizes for those not using vehicles to reach the university, precise parking time for each of the students. However, it argues that these solutions are not efficient enough and advances the argument that, in dealing with parking lot issues, it is most convenient and efficient to turn the former ‘Clock factory’ into a parking lot. By choosing this option, the university would consider the difficulties the students face finding an available parking space. The paper is based on the official announcements and policies of AUA concerning the parking issue, the prevailing international practice of various universities regarding the discussed issue, personal experience, and a survey held by me.
It takes, on average, seven to nine minutes to find a parking space on the campus of the American University of Armenia. This creates inconvenience both for the students and the faculty staff. Parking is an essential and central issue not only for urban transportation but also for the universities in Armenia as finding available parking space on the campus is not an easy task to overcome. American University of Armenia is not an exception. The process of finding free parking space, especially during class hours, requires a lot of time and effort. It is important to mention that actually, AUA has only two parking lots. The first one is in front of the main building of AUA. However, it is important to mention that this parking lot is too small, and only a small portion of the students’ vehicles can be parked there. The other parking lot is behind the main building, which is parking space for the professors and some of the faculty members and the students do not have access to it. On the other hand, there are several parking lots in the neighborhood of the campus. However, they do not belong to the university, and the residents of that territory also use it.
The issue of available parking space is very important and relevant as it creates inconvenience for the students. As it is almost impossible to park the car in front of the university, students try to find an available parking space somewhere in the neighborhood, and then they have to walk distance. Based on my personal experience and my survey held among AUA students, I can argue that many students are obliged to walk a long distance because of unavailable parking space, so they are late from the lessons. In turn, this reduces the overall grade of the particular class, no matter their performance during the course. According to my survey, 85,7 percent of the respondents were late from classes, because they could not find available parking space. This issue is becoming very acute as the campus’ neighborhood is densely populated, and it is also not always possible to find available parking space there. This, in its turn, leads to a violation of some policies and regulations of AUA as when the students are not able to find parking space in the appropriate space (especially in front of the building, near the two cafes). The issue of parking is very important as most of the respondents of my survey favor changing the parking system in AUA (they feel that it is poor).
It is also important to mention that the university has a limited parking space for the faculty, staff and students: ‘AUA provides a limited number of indoor parking spaces for employees.’ (AUA, 2016). However, the faculties’ parking lot is also very small, and not all vehicles can be parked there.
An interesting fact is that even though the students face the aforementioned difficulties in finding available parking space, as my research showed, there was no official united application of the students facing this issue to AUA administration or the provost. Students are sending private messages to AUA administration. However, the university responds very superficial to the issue and is not providing a long-lasting solution.
It is also important to state that AUA has a written policy concerning the parking issue. To solve the issue of the parking space, AUA encourages the students to take public transportation. especially metro, as the metro station is in front of the university to reach the university and highlights the fact that the metro station is located near the university (AUA, 2016). However, the policy outcome is not very promising and the students continue using the means of their personal transportation.
To solve the parking issue in the vicinity of American University of Armenia, as discussed above, the university offers an interesting solution; to use public transportation. As the experience shows, this is not an effective option. Students do not find it very attractive the use of their vehicles. However, the university, as other universities in the world, should promote the students and offer various rewards for those choosing to reach the university without vehicles. For example, The University of Arizona offered such a program, which was very successful as many students and staff sought an alternative model to reach the university. On the other hand, this is a very controversial solution, as the opinions concerning rewards to students for taking public transportation are very divided. My research shows that 55,6 percent of the respondents felt it acceptable and convenient to walk to the university instead of extra credits and rewards, and 44,4 percent were against this solution.
Another alternative solution to the issue is the following; AUA can offer free parking space for a defined period. For example, for two hours, the parking should be free, then for every additional hour, students should be charged. What is more, all the car numbers of the students should be registered by AUA to effectively implement this solution. In turn, this can fight against those who are not students or are not faculty members and park on the campus. However, this lacks effective implementation. Based on my personal experience and survey, I was able to find the most convenient and efficient option to solve the parking issue. The following solution is more complicated and requires more financial investment. However, it is more actual and effective option to solve the parking issue on the campus of AUA. The available parking space in front of AUA is very small and inconvenient. On the other hand, the American universities in Beirut, Bulgaria, and some other countries have a vast multi-level parking space not in front of the university. The construction of a new multi-level parking lot near the campus will cause two possible outcomes; it will free the space in front of the university, which instead can become an area full of trees or can be used for other purposes. Moreover, it will make the overall appearance of the university more attractive. New and multi-level parking should be constructed, and people not studying in the universities should not be allowed to park on the campus.
To fulfill the students’ parking needs, the most convenient spot for constructing a new parking area is the former ‘Clock Factory.’ The first reason why this spot is convenient for turning it into a parking lot is its location; it is not far from the university and is situated in a five-minute walk and 400 meters away from the university. What is more, the vast majority of the students (all the students responded to the survey) favor converting the old ‘Clock Factory’ building into a parking lot. This is an important fact as it shows that the students support this possible solution.
Moreover, the building is located in a place where AUA community can enter it from three streets; Aghbyur Serob street, Vagharsh Vagharshyan street, and from Sose street. This is a crucial factor as it makes the access to the parking spot very convenient and will not create too much traffic in the territory near the building.
Another not less important reason for turning the former ‘Clock factory’ into a parking lot is that there is no need to construct a new building, which will cost thousands of dollars. The area is around 30 thousand square meters, a relatively vast area to build a multi-level parking lot both for the students and the faculty and staff and can best serve the interests of AUA community.
The alteration of the former ‘Clock factory ‘into a parking lot will have its positive influence. First and foremost, most probably it will solve the issue of parking in the prohibited areas. Secondly, the outside appearance of AUA building will be beautiful, and there will be more places for the green space. Thirdly, because of the new and attractive parking lot, the students will not try to find parking space in the campus neighborhood by disturbing those living there.
Conclusion and Recommendation
In conclusion, the policy paper discusses one of the most acute issues of the university, the parking lot issue. The parking lot issue creates inconvenience for the students and faculty, as it makes them late from classes trying to find an available parking space or walk long distances to reach the university. On the other hand, the parking lot for the faculty and staff is also very small, and they also face the parking issue. All the mentioned factors lead to overall dissatisfaction from AUA parking policy and AUA image and lead to the need for alteration of the current parking system to make it more comfortable and convenient for meeting the needs of students and faculty members. The policy brief offers several options for the parking issue solution. It mostly concentrates on the last and the most effective option to alter the old factory building into a parking lot by considering several supportive reasons. Firstly, there is no need to spend money and construct a new building. Secondly, the factory area is vast, and it can place all the students’ vehicles. Thirdly, the building’s location is also very convenient as it is near the university; what is more, it will solve the long-lasting traffic issue in front of AUA. And last but not least, all the students responded to my survey support the idea of serving the old factory building for parking needs.
- American University of Armenia, 2016, Outside Parking, Retrieved from https://policies.aua.am/policy/87
- The Daily Wild Cat, 2018, New ride-sharing program Ride Amigos rewards UA’s sustainable commuters, Retrieved from https://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2018/02/rideamigos