CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tuesday marked the first day of the fall semester at UNC Charlotte but many students had a hard time getting to class.
There has been a parking shortage on campus for years but the opening of the new light rail extension and a new parking deck was supposed to help this semester.
Despite those improvements, some students told Channel 9 is still took them more than an hour to find a parking place.
Some of those frustrated students said they're spending more time circling crowded parking garages than they actually spend in the classroom.
Junior Nicole Lira rolled down her window to tell Channel 9, "This is my fourth deck."
She said she wasn't searching for her new text books or her new class buildings because she was too busy bouncing from parking deck to parking deck.
"You either get it or you don't; you kind of stalk people that are coming out of classes so it's kind of weird. 'So you shadow people?'" asked Reporter Mark Barber. Lira answered with a laugh saying, "Basically, yeah."
Even faculty members say they aren't immune to the parking problem.
"It's frustrating to find a parking space over here. It's very tight," said faculty member Abishi Dei.
Parking comes at a premium because there is less than one parking space for every two students.
UNCC hoped the opening of the new light rail extension would free up more space this year but it appears there isn't enough student housing along the rail to make a significant difference --- at least so far.
"There are still a lot of people here and there's no parking for the amount of students we have," said Lira.
UNCC opened the new Union parking deck with 600 spaces over the summer. However, the school lost 350 spaces to construction and high residence hall occupation rates. On top of that, they've also added approximately 500 new students this year.
Senior Shealyn Dwyer said, "I think it's awful. I think they need to make more parking."
Students pay $465 for their yearly parking passes. They say that's too much to pay when the school can't guarantee they'll actually make it to class on time.
The university told Channel 9 even though parking is more hectic during the first week of classes they noticed there were still more free spaces in the Union Deck than in previous years.
UNCC says their North Deck typically has free spots because it's farther from campus. That deck has a free shuttle that buses students to class.
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