TUSCALOOSA, AL -- Easing parking restrictions in the lots nearest the University of Alabama’s student rec center helped increase traffic to the facility 5 percent to 8 percent in one month, according to George Brown, director of the student recreation center.

Previously, students who had only residential parking permits could not park in the two lots nearest the center before 6 p.m. without receiving parking tickets. One student reported racking up $200 worth of parking tickets last semester in one of those lots.

After noticing a drop in residence hall students visiting the rec center, Brown worked with the Student Government Association (SGA) to develop a proposal for the traffic committee on campus, he told student reporters.

“Their intention was to try to open up more parking and ease restrictions,” Brown told the Crimson White. “We worked with SGA for data, and it became pretty clear that we had more capacity in the parking lots.”

Brown said the SGA members collected data by counting cars in the parking lots, then determined that the lots were not full during the times in question.

The eased parking restrictions were publicized during January. Word-of-mouth among students also played a role in the traffic increase, he said. By allowing residential students to park in the nearby lots during the day without penalty, more were interested in visiting the rec center.

“People heard there was an easing of the restrictions here, and our counts during the day improved, in the mid- to late-afternoon,” Brown said. “We’re for anything that promotes the use [of the recreation center]. This is doing nothing but helping us.”