Parking will impliment a new plan that will sell lot-exclusive permits for a slightly higher price.Photo by Stephen Kline

Finding parking at George Mason University is becoming increasingly difficult for students. Mason is implementing its own Transportation Master Plan over the next four to five years. This plan will turn Mason parking into a zoned or lot system. The plan will force students to purchase a permit for a specific lot or zone instead of allowing students to purchase a general lot pass that gives them the option to park in any of the student lots.

“Some of the biggest changes that will be happening over the next few years as a result of one of the outcomes of our recently completed transportation and traffic master plan is transitioning from a mostly general lot permit system to more of a zone permit system,” Director of Parking and Transportation Joshua Cantor said. The Lot J permit was a first step toward the zoning process and was decided by the Parking Services Advisory Committee, made up of faculty, staff and students.

“The plan is that some general lot or some general area each year will be transitioned to some type of zone system,” Cantor said. According to Cantor, many details still need to be worked out to successfully implement the zone system. Currently, the zone lines have not been finalized and the cost of parking in each zone has yet to be determined.

According to Cantor, the benefits of the zone system outweigh the disadvantages. Cantor said that as a result of the zone parking system, students and faculty can expect a reduction of traffic around Patriot Circle, fewer shuttle delays and a simplified communication and parking process. “By buying a zoned or a lot-specific permit, you know exactly where you are going and exactly where you are going to park, so it takes all that frustration and guessing work out of the equation and it simplifies the parking process dramatically,” Cantor said.

“People would lose the ability to go from lot to lot. It is impractical at a certain point to allow cars endlessly around campus,” Cantor said.

“You would see an array of options for different zones and they would be at different prices,” Cantor said. “You know Lot A might be a premium lot because it has the highest demand. Lot K might be less, and you would decide based on availability what you want to spend and you could choose where you want to park.”

According to Cantor, Mason will oversell zoned parking permits for each lot by approximately 10 percent. “There is a lot of work that we still have to do to figure out exactly how many permits to sell for each lot,” Cantor said.

Zoned parking raises the issue of student approval of this new plan. “I’m sure at first there will be some people that are disgruntled by parking in the one lot or zone they buy for, and there will be the ones that don’t get the lot or zone that they want,” Cantor said. “I’m sure the first year or so there will be a transitional period, there will be a lot of time spent educating people on what to expect and what their options are. After a couple of years it won’t really be any big deal.”