During many large-scale events and emergencies, such as severe weather, I am used to being an integral part of planning and response as I represent parking and transportation. It sometimes takes me being pushy, but I always want to make sure access concerns are addressed, as we are often the only ones who know everything happening across campus because of our daily responsibilities.
However, when the COVID pandemic begin, my staff and I had some major decisions to make regarding shuttle operations. We then had to respond to pressure to provide parking refunds when classes went online for the remainder of the spring and summer semesters and very few would be driving to campus anymore. As people were adjusting to the online classes and telework and among the public health concerns, I was not surprised that parking issues jumped into the discussion—while people don’t like paying for parking when they do park, they certainly don’t like paying when they can’t park anymore!
Once the refunds were done, operations become relatively quiet and my role stepped back. As we prepare to re-open in fall and several different scenarios are considered by the university’s administration, our role has returned to high visibility. How are we going to deal with drastic reductions in shuttle seating capacity, how are we going to sell permits and provide more daily options, how are we going to clean pay stations and push more mobile payment use, etc.?
While I think there are more complex decisions to make as we re-open—likely with limited in-person classes—perhaps it’s a good sign of normalcy when everyone has time to give me their opinion of how we should operate parking and transportation!
Josh Cantor, CAPP, is director of parking and transportation at George Mason University.