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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

McElroy/Crawford Parking

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One major finding of the analysis is that, contrary to many other institutions studied, there did not seem to be the complaint of insufficient parking on campus. Instead the more common complaint was one of a lack of parking convenient to one's intended destination. Parking is available but may be a considerable distance (relatively speaking) from the intended destination. This type of parking shortfall clearly impacted the students living in the McElroy/Crawford Residence Halls. Presently, not all students who reside in these facilities and who have a car can park the vehicle in one of the adjacent lots (13 or 15) or in Lot 16 across Ellis Avenue North. Approximately 300 students are required to park their cars in lot 20a on the southeast corner of the campus. The lack of convenient parking was a similar concern that was voiced by the Music and Theatre departments where patrons, particularly those coming from off-campus, may not be able to park particularly conveniently to the Performing Arts Building and soon-to-be completed Andreas Theatre. This will be discussed shortly.

While overall, the campus currently has sufficient capacity for meeting most day-to-day needs, in almost all cases, any available parking (with the exception of Gold Permit Spaces) is most often in lots 20 through 23 on the southeast corner of the campus. These spaces are not now convenient for accessing the campus core. The completion of the Taylor Center however, will make these spaces much more attractive since it would permit students parking in these lots to access an interior building from which they could access the majority of the campus core from the relative comfort of interior connections.

Students and visitors who are forced to park in these remote lots and who are used to convenient parking at their specific destination, may find the parking situation at Minnesota State unsatisfactory even after the Taylor Center is completed. This is because of the relative distance from parking to destinations. However, in an effort to alleviate this concern, the University has in place a shuttle bus system that provides students who park in these "distant" lots the ability to hop the campus shuttle. Two routes traverse these lots. One route (Route 8) is a direct route between the campus core and these remote lots. A second route (Route 1) also services the remote parking lots and the campus core. This route adds the apartments on the northeast portion of the campus. The bus service is available from approximately 7:30 a.m. until just after 10:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday with service terminating at 4:30 p.m. on Fridays. Table 1 below summarizes the average daily rider-ship on these two routes using information provided by Mankato Heartland Express.

Average Daily Rider-ship Table 1

Additionally, in order to accommodate residence hall students who may be forced to park in lot 20a because of insufficient capacity at their dorm, there is a nighttime shuttle, which operates from Monday to Thursday from 10:15 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. The service also operates on Sundays from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Analysis of rider-ship logs for 5 Sundays from mid-January to mid-February had an average of 62 riders per day while 15 weekdays during this same period averaged 11 riders per night.

In summary, we feel that the University has made an acceptable effort with the shuttle service to accommodate those patrons who are forced to park in the "remote" lots due to capacity constraints. The addition of the night-time shuttle is also a very accommodating gesture to provide for those students with off-campus work or other obligations who may be returning during the late evening hours. While certainly not a preferred choice to be relegated to the more distant parking lots, there presently exists few options for significantly increasing the parking available to accommodate 300+ residence hall students without detriment to other groups. Short of increasing parking supply or the remote lot parking, the only other options we see would be to limit possession of a vehicle on campus for resident students. We do not consider this a viable option. In our opinion, it would limit the attractiveness of the University to some students who may have a genuine need for a vehicle. Another option is to significantly increase parking rates charged residence hall students in order to discourage the number of vehicles. Without a clear consensus that the parking rates need to be adjusted for all groups this would, in our opinion, likely be considered by the residence hall students that they are being singled out as creating the parking problem on this portion of the campus which is not the case. There is a changing student demographic whereby many students truly need the access to their vehicle for off-campus work obligations. However, attempting to provide that every student in these residence halls has such guaranteed convenient access to their vehicle is not realistic. To attempt to do so would likely conflict with the needs of other groups on campus for example, the Performing Arts Center and Theatre as will be discussed in the next section or require very expensive structured parking. This re-allocation of purple to green permits would also limit the number of general purple permit spaces that could be designated which would impact these patrons as well. We feel that there needs to be a balance between the true need for convenient parking by students to insure the attractiveness of on-campus living but also recognizing fiscal constraints of the parking system and the needs of other groups.