The University of Wollongong (UOW) will end its carpooling program at the end of the upcoming exam period.

A spokesperson said the carpooling initiative would be dissolved due to the demand for car parks on campus.

The “3 for Free” initiative allowed students, staff, and visitors free parking if they had three or more people in the car, and was described as a “cost-effective” and “environmentally friendly” travel method by the university.

The UOW spokesperson said the carpooling car park (P4) would align with other campus-timed parking spaces and take effect after the exam period on June 22, 2024.

“The university’s main focus is on reducing the number of students and staff who drive to the university by encouraging the use of public and active transport (walking and cycling),” the UOW spokesperson said.

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UOW student Keyara Laneyrie commutes to campus from Camden and said public transport is not an option for her.

“(The) train is not an option – it takes way too long and for my 11:30 am class, if I am not at campus by 9 am I will not get a park,” Ms Laneyrie said.

“A few weeks ago I arrived on campus at 10 am, and drove around for an hour and a half trying to find a park and I was still late to my 11:30 am class.”

Carpool P4 officer Anna Craze said the volume of on-campus traffic over the last year has resulted in more drivers using P4.

“This semester especially, it’s been too crazy,” Ms Craze said. 

“So I’ve actually just had to let everyone in, because they’ve had traffic control here, trying to control all the traffic.”

Image: Kiara Martin

Ms Craze attributed the increased demand for car spots to the return of face-to-face classes after COVID-19.

“Everyone’s trying to get a spot and there’s just not enough parking at the moment I think,” Ms Craze said. 

The UOW spokesperson recommended free bus routes and shuttles, and directed cyclists to bike racks and maintenance stations across campuses for alternative transport.

Ms Laneyrie said removing the carpool initiative would not fix the high demand for car parks.

“Getting rid of carpool will not solve issues, it will create more as groups won’t be able to even park in carpool and will drive themselves,” she said.

Keiraville resident Maureen Burt said the parking situation around campus is getting worse every year, and carpooling was a great initiative.

“(The) cost of living means that students and staff can’t afford the fees. Carpooling is a great idea from a financial and environmental view,” Mrs Burt said.

UOW has said alternative options for carpooling will be explored via the MyUOW app.

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