Return to Normal?

By Josh Cantor, CAPP

Starting in mid-March and the first effects of COVID-19, we started having multiple meetings a day and adjusted our operations as classes moved online for the remainder of the spring semester. By late spring, our daily meetings shifted their focus to preparing for the fall 2020 semester, with daily 8:30 a.m. Webex meetings pulling together 150 people from many departments across campus.

I got into a routine, spending a lot of time on webinars trying to learn what my peers in the industry were doing for parking and shuttle operations, reporting back about what was being done elsewhere, and formulating our plans to re-open in August. As parking and transportation seems to be part of so many campus operations, I added meetings a few times a week on subcommittees dealing with campus COVID signage and creating outdoor event spaces, many in parking lots we expected to be wide open with the reduced number of students on campus. After all this work preparing for fall semester, more classes shifted online, leaving our parking and shuttle demand at 20 percent of normal.

As we count how many cars we have on campus each day instead of empty spaces, it’s become unusually calm and almost boring at the start of the semester for our operation. While driving home the other day, I thought to myself how much I miss hearing complaints from customers that they can’t find a parking space or that the buses are full. While stressful, that might be the best sign of a return to normal in the world of parking and transportation.

Josh Cantor, CAPP, is director of parking and transportation at George Mason University.