Students and staff at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville now have a new incentive to carpool to school and work.
The school is giving an opportunity for those who carpool to buy parking permits for the premium parking spots on campus, nearest to most buildings.
Each carpool needs to have at least two people, each of whom own their own vehicle.
“We’re trying to reduce the emissions on the road,” said Bob Vanzo, the director of Administrative Services.
Each participant also will be entitled to four guaranteed rides home each year. The program provides carpoolers a free ride home if they have to leave work or school early because of an emergency.
The members of the carpool would each need to buy an $85.50 carpool permit. The members of the carpool would then share one hangtag to place in the vehicle.
Staff parking permits range from $131 to $171 for a year. Student permits are $116 to $171 for the year.
Vanzo added that people who buy the cheapest permit, and split it among several people, would have to walk from the farthest parking lot in the middle of winter. He said issuing one permit per carpool group isn’t something the school could do through its current parking software, but has looked into.
So far, three carpools have been registered, Vanzo said.
“It’s early, people tend not to do this until the last minute (and) permits that people bought for last year are good until the first day of the fall semester,” Vanzo said. “It’s a program that will continue to grow once word spreads.”
The school, with an enrollment of about 14,000 students, has about 3,500 students living on campus. There are an additional 2,500 people employed by the university.
“We have a lot of cars on campus,” Vanzo said. “Not all are here at one time, but we have a lot of vehicles on campus.”
Vanzo said the school does have a lottery for remaining permits in premium spots that students can sign up for.
“There’s no sense to leave spaces empty if we got them to sell and they’re always in demand,” he said.
Vanzo said he believes most people would be interested in the program. “It will guarantee they will be in the first row.”
Ridefinders recently challenged regional employers to designate preferential parking spaces for people who carpool or vanpool.
“We really see this as a simple gesture an employer could make. Ridefinders will provide signs and hangtags,” said SJ Morrison, of Madison County Transit, which runs Ridefinders.
“It shows the employees and patrons that alternative transportation modes are important,” Morrison added. “We think that preferential parking goes a long way.”