Universities and colleges across the country are faced with growth in the campus population and the loss of surface parking lots for new buildings. The response of many institutions is to build new garages with the assumption that parking demand ratios will remain the same. Such an approach, however, can be extremely expensive—upwards of $2,000 per net new space annually. In many cases, a mix of parking and demand reduction programs—such as shuttles, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and financial incentives not to drive—can accommodate growth at a lower cost per trip. A balanced approach will also tend to support other goals, from improving town-gown relations to maintaining debt capacity. Demand management strategies have been employed by institutions for many years. However, it is less common for a cost-benefit analysis to be undertaken comparing them with new parking construction. Using examples from universities in California and Colorado, this article demonstrates a methodology to inform basic decisions on the amount of parking required to cater to campus growth, which can be incorporated into campus master planning.
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