Student Government searches for Solutions for Blue Route Parking at Turner Field

A crowd of students forms awaiting the arrival of the tardy Panther Express’s blue route bus. Photo by Kirsten Winston | The Signal

Student Government Association (SGA) Sen. Luis Aleman confronts students’ issues dealing with Blue Route Parking at Turner Field. Aleman spoke with Alfred Austin, the Director of Parking and Transportation, to find possible solutions.

Commuters who faithfully ride the blue route shuttles at Turner Field have different experiences due to arriving at different times of the day. Some students said when riding in the morning, it is easier to find parking spots and the shuttles arrive very quickly.

“Most of us are on campus between 11:00 am until very late in the afternoon, so finding a spot in between those times is pretty much competing in the hunger games,” Georgia State commuter Kyndal Boykin said.

Amongst trying to find parking, students complain that the shuttles do not arrive in a timely manner, and when they do get there, it’s constantly packed which can make the ride uncomfortable.

“I get claustrophobic when it gets packed, and I get anxious,” said Diana Massengale.

When events are held, Georgia State closes the green lot down leaving students with two options: either park at Georgia State’s blue route or at other available parking venues around campus grounds. Numerous students get frustrated when the green lot is closed, because it’s even harder to find available parking.

“[There’s] limited parking available, and they did open the lower lot, which makes it easier…sometimes there will be days when they close it off, and it’s like where the hell are we supposed to park now,” Georgia State commuter Sudesna Baral said.

Changes students would like to happen are for shuttle buses to run quicker, more drivers, better routes that are less prone to traffic, and for the school to provide more shuttles so the waiting period isn’t as long.

“…that will be great if the university can provide [these services] because we are a huge commuter school,” Mussie said.

Chris Connelly, the Director of Marketing and Operations, said the shuttle buses arrive as quickly as possible, but there are various factors due to Atlanta’s traffic pattern that may delay its arrival time throughout the year, such as construction and the impact of ongoing events in Atlanta.

“The University has the same number of buses on the shuttle routes. Atlanta-area traffic patterns, construction, and events impact shuttle frequency and arrival times throughout the year,” Connelly said.

He told The Signal that the changes in the bus route entry and exit points are solely for the purpose accommodating their already limited access to the blue and green lot. Turner Field lots aren’t owned by Georgia State entirely, and the university doesn’t have full control of keeping all blue or green lot open for the students to access. Therefore, when events are held, they are required shut down the lower level from students.

“We have worked out an agreement to allow students access to ALL of the blue lot SOME of the time. However, periodically, third-party events require parts of the green and blue lots to be closed to student parking. This impact is entirely out of the University’s control,” Connelly stated in emailed response.

SGA talks solution

During their meeting on Sept. 14, Sen. Aleman brought up possible parking solutions for commuter students. Amongst many things, Aleman said many students have trouble finding parking spots around Georgia State once blue lot is filled, because they do not know where to park or do not want to pay so much money to park.

“M-deck and T-deck fills up quick, and all these other decks fills up. Student’s need to park somewhere,” Aleman said.

Aleman concerns go beyond parking. He also wants to extend blue route shuttle hours. He explained that students should be allowed more time to study.

“There is no reason the shuttles should stop at 10:30. I think they should run until at least midnight. Most students might not be ready to leave and stop studying at that time,” Aleman said.

The most complaints Aleman gets from students are the availability of parking when it comes to green lots. Georgia State’s parking team might send out an announcement on Twitter to update students, but at times, they don’t.

“They update on Twitter, but sometimes they won’t. If they can’t [have parking availability], at least let us know. Students need to know, ‘Hey, there might not be parking for you,’ [so they can] think of other options before [they head out],” Aleman said.

There are numerous parking decks on campus, and Aleman wants to meet with these companies to see if they can establish a payment plan for students. Currently, Georgia State students only have the Marta budget plan and Turner Field parking.

“There is a parking deck next to Rialto and a bunch of parking decks all around campus. I want to see if I can talk to somebody’s company to see if we can establish a payment plan that is similar to what we have with Marta and M-deck,” Aleman said.

Strides are being made for a change

Aleman; Alfred Austin, the Director of Leads of Transportation; and other officials sat down on Sept. 22. to find possible solutions to enhance commuter students overall experience with Turner Field.

An issue they all agreed to work on is extending the bus route hours to midnight for both commuters and for residence. Austin and other officials are already in the process of looking for a new software to update the timing that the buses will arrive.

“They are already looking to get a new software [for] the buses that calculates how long the bus will take. They are trying to get another software that’s accurate and on time,” Aleman said.

Austin understands that more students want Turner Field to have more shuttle buses, but at this moment, it’s not feasible due to the cost. The amount it takes for one shuttle bus to run the entire day is around $10,000, and Georgia State has nine shuttles specifically for the blue route. Parking and transportation are not federally funded, and they gather all their money from M-deck.

“Parking and transportation are very self-sufficient, and they don’t get federal funds. All the money they take is off of M-deck, and that’s what’s used to run parking and transportation,” Aleman said.