UW Bothell eases parking pain with new technology

BOTHELL, Wash. — The University of Washington Bothell is growing so fast that students are running out of room primarily in the school’s parking lots and garages.

Parking on campus is both time consuming and inconvenient.  There are more than twice as many students as there are parking spots available on campus, so the university is in the process of installing new technology to ease some of the parking pain.

Sometimes junior Ruben Robles spends more time looking for parking than he does in class.

“I get here around 11 o’clock and it takes 30 minutes on a good day to find a spot, depending on if you can find someone who is leaving,” Ruben told us as we rode around one of the campus’s parking garages with him.

Wednesday was a good day.




“I’d say I searched for about 25 minutes and I was actually pretty happy I found one that fast,” he explained.

The university hopes new technology will mean more good days.

“We’re trying to make it more efficient, providing more information for them instead of driving around and around looking for a space, we’d rather have them studying and enjoying the student life,” said Tony Guerrero, Associate Vice Chancellor of facilities for the university.

The university is the first in Washington state to install this digital parking system.  The lights above each space tell students which spaces are free in each row using a sensor on the ground that changes the lights from green to red.

Yes and no signs on each floor of the campus’s two garages indicate which floors have parking available, and in a week or so signs will be posted at the entrances of the garages that use sensors in the concrete to track vehicles entering and exiting.  Those signs will display the exact number of spots available minute by minute.

Ruben says if it gets him in class quicker-- he gives it the green light.

“That would be helpful just to show where a spot is available,” he told us.

In addition, in the next couple of weeks the university is rolling out an app that will tell students how many spots are available before they ever even get on campus.

The whole system cost the university about $400,000.  Officials say they need a new parking garage but that's much more expensive and years down the road.