Parking Mad!

WHERE TO GO: A map detailing the parking areas at James Cook University Townsville.

James Cook University students are crying out for more parking solutions on campus, but not making formal complaints to address the issue.

By Toni Gorton

James Cook University students have expressed their disappointment with on-campus parking, many believing it is unreliable.

Second year Occupational Therapy student Julia Stark said the parking situation was erratic.

“Some days you can turn up and there will be dozens of parks and other days there are none at all,” she said.

“All our tutors have said we can use the excuse of not being able to find a park if we can’t get to class.”

Other students said they believed staff and students used facilities irresponsibly, creating problems.

Third year German Language student Pippa Bray said being surrounded by other vehicles in the unmarked parking areas was also an issue.

“The worst problem I have encountered with the parking was probably when I was parked in by other people and couldn’t leave,” she said.

WHERE TO GO: A map detailing the parking areas at James Cook University Townsville.

JCU Estate Office deputy director Robyn Fallon said people who did not park legally or safely would be fined.

“We do fine people for parking on the grass, parking illegally and in dangerous situations,” she said.

Fines at James Cook University are linked to the State Government penalty points system with all infringements linking to a percentage of a demerit point.

On-campus parking is marked by signage at the university’s entrance so students who park in unsigned areas will receive an infringement notice.

Those who park in permit zones without a parking permit also risk being fined.

Mrs Fallon said the Estate Office had received less complaints this year than in the past, indicating students aren’t airing their frustrations with the situation formally.

She suggested the lessening complaints may be due to new permit parking areas opening around the Townsville campus.

“We opened the 350-bay car park on the eastern side of campus near Vet (the Veterinary Sciences building) and to date this park hasn’t been fully utilised,” Mrs Fallon said.

Students said they believed there were still ways to improve the campus parking congestion.

“There also needs to be a lot more areas to park, especially with the new lecture theatre complexes going in – that will add a lot of stress on car parking,” Ms Bray said.

JCU student Kelly Candelet suggested different level parking permits may be an option.

Less than half of the parking areas on campus are available for free parking with most available exclusively to permit holders and visitor parking.

“I have considered buying a parking permit but I don’t see the point, as they don’t guarantee a car park and most of the time, permit parking areas are just as hard to find places in anyway,” Ms Bray said.

“There needs to be bitumen areas instead of dirt, as I am always conscious of doing damage to my car driving on dirt areas.”

“Perhaps they could introduce another tier of parking where students could pay a premium to park closer to certain locations,” she said.

Mrs Fallon said a multi-storey car park had been discussed as a future option.

“The multi-storey is only a long term plan at this stage and may be a solution for not only JCU but also Townsville Hospital parking,” Mrs Fallon said.

The current parking arrangement is considered a ‘user pays’ system, but some permit-holders have expressed concern about where their fees had gone.

Mrs Fallon said the money raised from permits and fines went back into the parking infrastructure at James Cook University, but one parking bay alone cost approximately $3000 to build.

The Estate Office will conduct a parking review this year but the future of campus facilities is always in question.

“We will also be building more parking areas behind the library that will start to roll out this year,” Mrs Fallon said.

“It costs a lot of money to build car parks and it costs a lot of money to maintain them.

“We want to use some of the funds that we raised to seal some of the areas and maintain them,” she said.

Mrs Fallon said there were car parks currently available but students needed to be aware of where they were and how they used them.

“If you get here early, you will probably get a park,” she said.

Parking permits are available from the James Cook University Bookshop and cost $63 for a full year or $36.50 per semester.