New UTEP research tool could solve parking problems on college campuses

UTEP Parking Study

EL PASO, Texas - It's a problem that many growing universities across the country are facing: having enough parking. A University of Texas El Paso student and professor are working to fix that, not just at UTEP, but nationwide.

PhD candidate Okan Gurbuz and Professor Kelvin Cheu are now using engineering to find a solution. They have created an algorithm to measure demand for parking and determine a fair price for parking permits, depending on several factors including parking spot location.

"For now, university parking officers are doing like trial and error," Garbuz said, "so they cannot predict. What they do is increase $5 or $10 without any prediction and see what's coming next." 

The group surveyed roughly 1,000 students at UTEP and found that 29% parked off-campus in nearby neighborhoods, rather than on-campus.

The research will soon be examined by a national agency, which could mean it could roll out nationwide.

Cheu says the model solves a problem that doesn't currently have a widespread solution.

"I think it's an urgent issued faced by most universities these days and yet university parking officers have very little tools to manage the situation," Cheu said, "like setting the price, predicting the demand and trying to designate parking lots into different zones." 

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