Sixty-one percent of Stony Brook students commute daily to campus, according to the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness, and many of these students have complaints about the main commuter parking lot, South P Lot.
Thousands of students who drive to school must park at South P, unless they own a stadium permit or find parking at one of 130 spaces in North P Lot, which is located near the LIRR station.
Obtaining a stadium permit, however, requires students to get on a waitlist and pay a fee of $150, while a commuter permit is free.
Commuters who park at South P say they usually have difficulty parking close to Wolfie’s Hut, the bus stop in the center of South P. This especially occurs on weekday mornings between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., the lot’s peak hours, Connell Friel, the interim director of transportation and parking, said. Once parked, most commuters wait for a bus to drive them to the main campus, which is about a mile away.
The University’s campus planning, design and construction department has made improvements to South P, such as expanding the size of the lot from 800 to 2,552 parking spaces over time, Friel said. However, students say that more needs to be done.
South P’s distance from the main campus has long been a problem for commuters. Many say they wish there was a large commuter lot closer to campus, especially because the Express bus stops running at night. The Express bus runs from the Engineering Loop near the SAC to South P between 7 a.m. and 10:50 p.m. on weekdays, Friel said.
Some commuters stay on campus until 11 p.m. or later, with limited to no options of taking a bus to South P.
Pengyan Liu, a senior chemistry major, said she sometimes has no choice but to walk to South P after 11 p.m.. Walking takes her approximately 28 minutes, and although the sidewalks are well-lit, she said she feels unsafe walking.
“At night when the Express bus stops, the Hospital bus takes every 15 to 20 minutes,” Zeerak Ansari, a junior biology major, said. “And that sucks.”
But Friel said that no other space on campus could accommodate a parking lot of similar size to South P.
“It seems to have been the only place that could accommodate that size lot,” he said.
Because he recently took on the position of interim director in December 2015, he is unsure of the considerations taken during South’s P construction 46 years ago. But he said that the remaining land on the university campus is already accounted for, either by the Ashley Schiff Park Preserve, athletic fields, buildings or other parking lots.
In addition to the distance, some students find that South P is lacking a necessary utility.
“They need a bathroom,” Adit Dalal, a junior economics major, said. “That’s the one thing they need so bad.”
Dalal said he drinks a cup of coffee while commuting 35 to 40 minutes from Hicksville every morning. When he arrives at South P and needs the bathroom, he said he feels frustrated that there are no bathrooms nearby.
He says it takes about 15 minutes to park at South P and take the Express bus to the Student Activities Center.
Jinwoong Joung, a senior information systems major, agreed with the idea of adding bathrooms. He commutes from Flushing, Queens, every morning to make it to campus by 8 a.m..
“I take an hour drive, and sometimes I really want to go to the bathroom, but the bus does not come,” he said. “There’s no way that I can comfort myself.”
Joung added that installing a water fountain would also be helpful.
Currently, there are no plans to install bathrooms at South P.
“There has never been any formal discussions regarding the installations of bathrooms in Wolfie’s Hut,” Friel said in an email. He added that no cost estimates have ever been made.
He said that adding bathrooms for students is possible because there is a water line going to Wolfie’s Hut and a sewer line going to the transportation trailer, located in the South P lot, . There are bathrooms in the transportation trailer for employees.
Wolfie’s Hut, the indoor bus stop that includes seating, free newspapers and television sets, is the only facility provided for South P users. It is usually found vacant. Students instead wait in line outside for the next bus.
“You only have to wait outside for five to 10 minutes for a bus, and everyone’s waiting in line,” Dalal said. He said that no one wants to lose his or her spot in line.