A Change in Student Parking

Sophie Davenport, The Growl Editor

We have all noticed the change in parking permits this semester. They are now virtual. No more little parking permit stickers in our car window. Still having to pay thirty-seven dollars (seventy-five dollars for residents) for a parking permit but having nothing to show for it might feel like a waste of money. It does feel like a waste of money, however according to Chief of Police, Leo Sokoloski, virtual parking permits are more efficient to manage and was a “intelligent investment.”

What exactly are virtual parking permits and how do they work? Your new virtual parking permit is your vehicle’s license plate. Once you order your parking permit through the BU parking permit store website and your permit is approved it goes “live,” you can park legally in the parking lot you are eligible to park in. You no longer have to use a temporary parking permit or be worried it might expire before you get your official parking permit in the mail. Once your parking permit is approved you are good to go.

The virtual parking permit system is an investment BU made because the existing parking software contract was expiring. It was time for an upgrade. A Request for Proposal was made by BU to garner competitive bids for newer parking software technology. This new technology system is called the License Plate Reader (LPR). Chief of Police, Sokoloski explained how the LPR works, it “uses illumination and infrared cameras to capture the image of the vehicles license plate then an image processing software analyzes the image, extracting the license plate information.” This new LPR system has lowered overhead costs. It is easier to manage and issue parking tickets, fees, and fines also.

The LPR can scan 1000 cars per minute which is way more efficient than having someone walking an entire parking lot checking each vehicle for a parking permit. For the LPR to work correctly and to the highest capability vehicles need to be parked correctly with their license plate facing outward. Hence, you are no longer allowed to pull through into a parking space or back into a parking space.

According to the Chief of Police, BU PD has been advertising this change in virtual parking permits since last December. During the first week of classes, students who did not follow the new parking regulations (for backing into a parking space) students were only issued a warning. Now parking tickets are being issued, starting at fifteen dollars per ticket. To further promote and remind students of these new parking restrictions the BU PD has placed signs around campus entrances.

This new permit and parking change will take some time to get used to. However, it was a change that needed to happen. BU PD needed an upgrade in technology, it’s the 21st century. Knowing how the new system works it is easier to understand why the new parking restrictions are in place and why they need to be followed.