By Jennifer English, Contributing Writer
Parking and its various offspring – violations, tickets, and the Winter Parking Ban – are frequently the subjects of complaint from students, faculty and visitors.
For many drivers, the UNH parking enforcement officers seem pesky. But while UNH parking enforcement officers understand the frustration of parking, they feel as though they still need to do their jobs.
“Every once and a while, I feel bad when I’m writing a ticket. I give it, and as I’m walking away, I see the poor girl walk up,” said Nicholas Prevost, a UNH parking enforcement officer who is graduating this May.
But Prevost also admitted to having other feelings, saying that writing a ticket can sometimes be “surprisingly therapeutic.”
While the tickets can be therapeutic for workers writing them, those receiving them tend to experience frustration.
“I’ve spent more money on tickets than tuition,” said Julie-Marie Zarba, a commuting senior. “They’re like bees, they just find you.”
According to Marc Laliberte, program manager for UNH Transportation Services, the number of tickets handed out varies each day – from a couple dozen to maybe 150 or more on a busier day.
For Katie Sullivan, a sophomore UNH parking enforcement officer, the job can be boring at times. A shift can consist of answering questions of where to park or how much parking costs, watching movies, doing homework and checking cars and meters.
The two most common violations are “no valid permit” and “expired meter”. Laliberte calculated that in December 2014, these two violations represented 77 percent of all tickets. These violations are relatively easy to avoid with money in the meter or a proper permit, but permits can be pricey. Commuter or faculty/staff permits are $50, while for residential students, permits for two semesters range from $200 to $350.
The winter parking ban is another common issue. The ban, normally implemented Dec. 1 until April 1, prohibits parking in most lots between midnight and 6 a.m.
Together, snow and the winter parking ban often result in ‘made-up’ parking spaces. Drivers looking for empty spaces encounter mounds of snow blocking spaces or pay meters.
“They never plow or they just plow your car in,” Zarba said. “[They should] take in consideration that we pay a lot of money to be here, and I feel that they don’t go out of their way at all to make it easier.”
Zarba admitted to making her own parking space during the ban. She even wrote a note, “Can’t get to meter to pay. Thanks,” including the date, her name and number.
This can be a risky move though. Prevost said that when the ban is in enforcement, there are no warnings – a violating car is towed immediately. It costs $100 for towing and $75 for the ticket.
Prevost thinks that it is still possible to evade tickets.
“If you know how the university works, you should be able to avoid getting tickets,” he said.
If you don’t know how the system works, a document on the UNH Transportation website that describes parking, fines, and permits is available.
But for those who enjoy supporting UNH, consider continuing to rack up the tickets.
“Here’s a fun fact,” Prevost said. “All the money that the university gets from tickets goes to the buses.”