Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why is paid parking necessary?
A. Increased enrollment prompted the need for new construction. The University has long outgrown Hamer Hall, which was built in 1964, when the University's enrollment was less than half of the more than 9,400 students currently enrolled.
As enrollment increased, student expectations rose as well, prompting the need for a new facility. That facility - the convocation center - will open for use in Fall 2011. This construction has resulted in the loss of 400 parking spaces.
To alleviate the loss of these spaces, as well as to address the historical lack of parking on campus, in 2008 PennWest California's Council of Trustees approved a $20 million bond issue to pay for parking enhancements on campus.
Phase 1 of the parking garage construction will cost $12.5 million. The remainder of the funds has been used for parking improvements. To date, these improvements have included:
- Expansion and repaving of the River Lot.
- Creation of the Beazell Street access crossing into the River Lot.
- Paving the lot at Roadman Park.
- Enhanced lighting in the River Lot and at Roadman.
- Installation of bus shelters, emergency phones and security cameras at Roadman and the River Lot.
Q. Is there no other way to cover these costs?
A. No. The cost of the parking garage and upgrading of parking facilities, in accordance with the policies of the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, must be paid for by those who use the services.
Q. Will parking revenue be used to cover anything other than parking-related expenses?
A. No. Parking revenue will be used:
- To defray the cost of the debt service payment on the $20 million bond.
- To cover the personnel, equipment and supply expenses of the new Parking and Transportation Department.
- To cover annual expenses of maintaining the parking lots and garage.
Q. If I don't have a car on campus, will I have to pay for parking?
A. No. Only drivers who wish to park on campus must pay. If you walk to campus, ride a bicycle or live in a residence hall but do not bring a vehicle to campus, you are not charged a parking fee.
Q. If I'm on campus only during the academic year, will I have to pay for parking for the entire calendar year?
A. No. You have the option of paying by the calendar year, by the academic year or by the semester. There also are spaces available in the garage where you may pay by the hour or by the day.
Q. How do I register and obtain a parking permit/hang tag?
A. Parking registration is ongoing. To request a parking permit/hangtag, click here to add your name to a waiting list. You will be notified when a parking space in the lot(s) you request becomes available.
Q. How will I get my new parking permit/hangtag?
A. Once you have registered, a parking permit/hang tag containing a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip will be mailed to you at the address you provide. Permits will NOT be available for pickup on campus.
Q. Can I use my parking permit/hang tag in more than one registered vehicle?
A. Yes, the permit owner may register additional vehicles when necessary, but the owner is not permitted to share the RFID permit/hang tag with other individuals. This is a violation of the parking policy.
Q. How do I register more than one vehicle?
A. It is possible to register multiple vehicles during the registration process, which is ongoing.
Q. Will there be a charge for the parking permit/hang tag?
A. No, but a deposit ($20) on the RFID permit/hang tag is required of all those parking on campus. The deposit is refunded if a student or employee departs the University, provided the hang tag is returned.
Q. Can I use financial aid to pay for parking?
A. Yes, you can use financial aid to pay for parking.
However, the University is not validating your eligibility for financial aid at the time of parking registration. If you indicate that you wish to use financial aid to pay for parking, we will assume that you are eligible for the aid. Students who do not have sufficient financial aid to cover expenses will continue to be billed for parking throughout the semester. If you have not paid the parking charge on your student bill by the end of the semester, your access to parking on campus will be suspended.
Q. What happens if a student fails to pay his/her parking charges after the parking permit/hang tag has been provided?
A. Students who have not paid their parking charges are permitted to park and the Office of Student Accounts will attempt to recover the charges. If the bill has not been paid by the end of the semester, the card will be deactivated. Students will not be able to early register for classes and they will not be able to obtain transcripts if they have outstanding debt.
Q. How will the University monitor parking?
A. Only vehicles with a PennWest California parking permit/hang tag are permitted to enter the University's paid parking lots, as well as the free parking area at Roadman, which is available to PennWest California staff who are members of bargaining units. Your permit/hang tag provides access to one specified parking area only. Some of these lots are gated and others are not because of safety and cost concerns.
Two parking enforcement officers enforce compliance in areas that are not gated.
ALL cars parking at Roadman Park are required to have permits/hang tags, since the parking lot is not gated.
Q. What happens if I get to my assigned parking lot, and it's already full?
A. The registration process is designed to ensure that enough spaces are available for the drivers assigned to each lot. Parking lots have enough room for everyone.
Q. Will visitors be parking in the same lots as students?
A. Signs will direct campus visitors to the Vulcan Parking Garage, where they can park and pay by the hour. The hourly spaces are available on a first come, first served basis.
Q. What happens if the gate at my parking area won't open, even though I have a parking permit/hang tag for that lot?
A. Press the button at the gate. It will ring through to the Parking and Transportation Office during the day, and to University Police after hours. Someone will be available to assist you.
Q. How will enforcement be handled for ungated lots?
A. Enforcement is handled by ticketing and, if necessary, towing of illegally parked vehicles at the owner's expense.
Q. What should I do if I get a parking ticket?
A. Drivers who receive a ticket can pay the fine online.
Permits are not to be shared, transferred, or sold to another sibling or student. Each permit is assigned and registered to only one person and all citations and responsibilities are with the assigned person with the permit.
Transferring or selling a permit without proper registration with the Department of Parking & Transportation is prohibited and considered an invalid permit.
Q. What parking options are available?
A. Paid parking options include Tier 1, Tier 2 and Reserved plans, as well as free parking for faculty and staff.
This parking map shows which parking lots are included in each plan.
Q. What is the cost for each option?
A. Please see the table showing parking plans and transient rates here.
Q. What is reserved parking?
A. Unlike drivers who elect a Tier 1 or Tier 2 plan, those who pay for reserved parking are guaranteed the same parking space for the length of their parking agreement, e.g. calendar year, academic year, semester.
Q. Will reserved parking be open to any faculty, staff and student?
Q. Will I have an opportunity to change my parking option? For example, if I initially register for "Tier 1" parking, may I change to "Reserved" parking?
A. Any change in parking preference must be made within the first week of each semester and will be granted, provided there is space available.
Q. If I am a member of the faculty or staff, may I pay for parking via payroll deduction? If so, will the deduction be taken pre- or post-tax?
A. Yes, payment may be handled via payroll deduction and is pre-tax.
Q. Do I pay by the week? By the month?
A. You have the option of paying by the calendar year, by the academic year or by the semester. There also are spaces available in the garage where you may pay by the hour or by the day.
In addition, faculty and staff can choose a pre-tax payroll deduction option to pay for their parking choice (both 20 and 26-week payroll).
Q. Will Vulcan Village residents have an opportunity to purchase parking permits on campus?
Q. Where will student parking be located?
A. Students are eligible for paid parking permits in Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas, both on campus and at the Roadman Park lots. In addition, students may choose to park in a reserved parking space and are permitted to do so, provided space is available.
Q. Why won't students have the free parking option?
A. PennWest California is making substantial investments to its parking program (e.g., Vulcan Parking Garage, access control system, lot improvements, etc.). The state mandates that as an auxiliary service, the parking program must be paid for with fees generated from those who park.
Q. Why do faculty and staff have a free parking option?
A. Prior to the new improvements, the cost of parking was determined by the University. Parking was provided for free to employees and members of the respective bargaining units as part of their benefit package. This free parking benefit is honored via free parking being provided in designated lots around campus.
Q. Where will handicapped spaces be available?
A. Handicapped spaces are available in all Tier 1 lots. Read more about handicapped parking spaces at PennWest California.
Q. What will it cost to park in a handicapped space?
A. Anyone who parks in a handicapped space pays at the Tier 2 parking rate, although his/her parking space are located in a Tier 1 lot. This is being done because, for safety reasons, there are no handicapped spaces in the River Lot, which is a Tier 2 area.
If a person with a handicapped tag chooses to park in a reserved parking lot, he/she will pay the full reserved parking rate.
Q. If I have a handicapped placard, what are my parking options?
A. A driver who registers for a handicapped space will have TWO parking options if he/she is a manager or a student, and THREE options if he/she is a bargaining unit employee. The options are:
- Managers and students with handicapped placards may choose Tier 1 parking (at Tier 2 rates) or Reserved parking (at the Reserved rate).
- Bargaining unit members with handicapped placards may choose Tier 1 parking (at Tier 2 rates), Reserved parking (at Reserved rates) or free parking at Roadman Park. (Shuttles are handicapped accessible.)
Please note: The adjustment for Tier 1 parking at Tier 2 rates will be made when drivers with handicapped placards complete final registration.
Q. Will people with disabilities be able to ride the shuttle between Roadman Park and the main campus?
A. All Vulcan Flyer shuttles are handicapped accessible.
If your paid lot is full, free parking is available for University employees in the designated faculty/staff free spaces in Lot 4 and Lot 14. Students should contact the Parking and Transportation Office at 724-938-4677 so they can be directed to a parking area.
If my designated parking lot is full, should I park in another lot, where I might
No. Please contact the Parking and Transportation Office at 724-938-4677 and you will be directed to a parking area.
If my designated lot is full and I'm ticketed for parking elsewhere, will the fine
If you feel that you have received a citation unfairly, you have 72 hours to appeal. Instructions for filing an appeal are printed on the back of the parking citation.
Would the cost of a citation be applied to my payment(s) for parking?
No. Citations must be paid online with a credit card, or in person at the Parking and Transportation Office, where cash or credit cards are accepted.
Q. What is the Vulcan Flyer shuttle?
A. The Vulcan Flyer shuttle transports students, faculty and staff between the Main Campus and Roadman Park. All buses in the Vulcan Flyer fleet are accessible to people with disabilities.
Q. How often will shuttles run between Roadman Park and the main campus?
A. Please see the table showing Vulcan Flyer service.
Q. Where will the shuttle stop?
A. After leaving the Roadman Park parking lot, the shuttle will stop at the MMVTA Park 'n' Ride (opposite Vulcan Village), then continue to the main campus with stops at Building B, the corner of Hickory and Third streets, and Manderino Library. Once the bus leaves the main campus, it will stop at the upper Vulcan Village stop and then at the Roadman Park lot.
Q. How will PennWest California shuttle buses be identified?
A. Buses in the Vulcan Flyer fleet are clearly identifiable. Periodically, when an auxiliary bus is needed, that bus also carries Vulcan Flyer signage.
Q. Will the Vulcan Flyer shuttles be running this summer?
A. No, The Vulcan Flyers will resume service a few days prior to the first day of the fall semester and end for the summer after the undergraduate commencement in the Spring.
Q. Do I need a car?
A. Although many of our students do have cars, it is not necessary. The campus is small enough for easy walking or bicycling, and the borough of California is also within easy walking or biking distance.
The Vulcan Flyers are the University-based campus shuttle service that connects to the upper campus and Vulcan Village. These buses are free to students and operate seven days a week, please check the schedule, route maps and more information at the parking web page at www.caluparking.edu.
Also, the Vulcan Flyers provide hourly service to the West Brownsville WalMart making access to shopping easy.
Mid-Mon Valley Transit provides free access to their public bus services with the students Cal Card.
Mid-Mon Valley public bus service has stops in town and on campus and too many areas throughout the Mon Valley and connections to Pittsburgh where students can connect to Greyhound, Megabus and or Amtrak services. Go to www.mmvta.com for detailed schedule information.
Q. Where can I learn about carpooling and other commuting options?
A. For information about carpooling, vanpooling, bikepooling, Park-n-Ride facilities and a Commute Cost Calculator, visit www.commuteinfo.org.
Q. I received a notice to renew my existing permit, but I am on a waitlist for another lot location. What should I do?
A. For now, please renew your existing permit and maintain your existing waitlist record. We expect to hold a waitlist sale for parking permits in August, once all the renewals and returned permits have been placed back into inventory.
At that time, you will receive a notice that you have been awarded an opportunity to exchange your existing permit for one in a location that may be more suitable. You will be able to purchase/exchange that new permit during the first week of the fall semester.
Renewing your existing permit now means that you will have a place to park on the first day of the fall semester, as well as the opportunity to make an exchange during that first week of classes.
Q. Will the Parking and Transportation Office be "overselling" lots?
A. Yes. Based on our extensive lot utilization reports, electronic monitoring of permits and field observations, we can forecast the "oversell" capacity of any given parking lot comfortably. Many variables determine the number of permits we will sell for each lot, but our goals remain the same:
1.) To ensure that all customers have a space to park.
2.) To maximize the efficient use of each parking lot.
Based on the information collected in the Parking and Transportation Office's first year of operation, we have determined that certain lots can comfortably accommodate additional permits. These adjustments will be made to the inventories for the next waitlist sale in August.
Q. I do not check my PennWest California e-mail account over the summer. Will there be additional communications sent to me through the U.S. mail?
A. We encourage everyone to check their University e-mail account periodically for important information. In addition, most of the information being communicated about parking can be found online here.
To keep mailing costs in check, we will NOT send these notices by U.S. mail. Newly issued permits ONLY will be mailed to individuals during the August waitlist sale in advance of the fall semester.
Q. I will be living at Vulcan Village. Do I need a parking permit?
A. Residents of Vulcan Village are permitted to park in their housing area as part of their lease agreement. If you would like to bring your car to the main campus, you will need a valid permit, or you may park in the Vulcan Garage and pay the hourly fee.
The Vulcan Flyer shuttle is a very efficient alternative to driving to campus. The shuttle makes stops at Vulcan Village between 5 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Q. I have a Lot 24 permit. Can I park on the main campus during the summer?
A. Yes - however, you will need to purchase a summer parking credential for your existing permit.
Q. Will there be any visitor parking on campus?
A. Visitor parking is available in the Vulcan Parking Garage.
Q. How can I file a complaint or make a recommendation?
A. If you have questions about parking, or would like to file a complaint or recommendation, please give us a call at 724-938-4677.
Q. Who will be responsible for parking recommendations?
A. A Parking and Transportation Advisory Committee has been established. Membership on the 22 11-member committee which includes a student representative, representatives from the university administration as well as faculty and the other unions on campus. This committee meets twice each semester and is chaired by the Director of Parking & Transportation.
Q. Who will handle parking appeals?
A. There is a Parking Appeals Committee in place. This board is chaired by the director of Parking and Transportation.