Frequently Asked Questions - Parking and Transportation Operational Changes due to COVID-19

In response to the challenges that we face right now, here are Frequently Asked Questions surrounding COVID-19 and transportation at the U of M:

General Questions  |  Parking Questions  |  Transit Questions  |  Fleet Services Questions

General Questions

Q: Is PTS Customer Service open?

A: From Monday, November 23 through Friday, January 15, PTS customer service will be open for in-person walk-in visits from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The PTS customer service desk will be closed daily from 11 a.m. - noon.  Fill out an Appointment Form for PTS Customer Service Visits to set up/request an appointment. 

Q: Will parking lots and ramps be open or closed?

A:   All parking facilities are open.

Q:  Why is parking even considered an essential campus service?

A:  Our public and contract parking operations serve the activity of both University and non-University customers like Fairview Hospital. This means for the operation, security, and safety of our community, we have made an intentional decision to continue operating parking facilities with most of the controls done remotely. 

In addition, the current environment has led to a number of changes. For example, we have worked to assist our essential employees who need additional parking access by expanding the reciprocal parking options. This allows those essential employees to park where they need. We have also made arrangements for those who are no longer able to come to campus by bus and who now need to drive and park.

Q: Why do students have to pay the Transportation & Safety Fee for the Fall 2020 semester?

A: The Transportation and Safety Fee supports the campus bus infrastructure, including the Campus Connectors and Circulators, and the Safe Walk Program, which is designed to enhance safe campus transportation for all students. The fee is an integral part of ensuring that safe transit and walk services are available for students, parents, and the University of Minnesota community. The Transportation and Safety Fee is not (and has never been) charged based on a set amount of usage of these services. In alignment with the Board of Regents decision regarding Student Services Fees and the statement acknowledged by registering students, PTS will not be waiving the Transportation and Safety Fee. The University will continue to assess our approach should circumstances related to COVID-19 change. Please note that refunds or waivers will not be approved for the reason that a student is not returning to campus.

Parking Questions

Q: I am an essential employee and need a temporary parking contract. What should I do?  

A: Set up a temporary, no-cost parking contract by emailing the following information to parking@umn.edu:

  • Full Name
  • UMN empl ID #
  • Home mailing address
  • Home phone number

This contract provides 24/7 access to Gold Lot, East River Road Garage, Oak Street Ramp, Washington Avenue Ramp, or Gortner Avenue Ramp. These contracts will expire when the remote work order ends. 

Q: I am an essential employee and need to park occasionally. What should I do?

A:  Park in daily rate lots for $5 a day.

Q: I have a parking contract. Where can I park?

A: Parking contracts will remain available for use. Additionally, the reciprocal privileges traditionally only offered on nights and weekends will be available 24/7. Learn more about reciprocal parking here.

Hangtag contract holders parking in structured facilities should pull a ticket at the entry, push the silver button, and give the call center representative their hangtag number. If a hangtag customer has multiple issues with this method, a keycard can be issued. 

Q: I will not be on campus.  Can I get a refund on my parking contract?

A:  PTS is working to understand the complexity of this unprecedented time for our campus community and how that relates to the service we provide. We want to ensure parking facilities remain operational for those who need them. For those essential on-campus employees coming to provide essential services, parking is available with extended reciprocal access. With very few exceptions, your parking keycard will allow you entry into all contract facilities and your lot hangtag will allow you to park in any contract lot.    Our goal is to support the ongoing efforts of staff who are on campus and make their jobs as easy as possible.  

Suspending Staff/Faculty Parking Contracts
  • University of Minnesota Physicians (UMP) employees should email contract parking questions to benefits@umphysicians.umn.edu.

  • Fairview manages contract parking for its employees through its parking office and is not included in the parking contract suspension process. Contact the Fairview Parking Services Office at 612-273-7278 or parking@fairview.org for information.

University of Minnesota employees who are contract holders on the Twin Cities campus may choose to suspend their parking contract while the remote work order is in place. If you choose to suspend your parking contract, you will be able to restart the same contract once the requirement to work remotely is lifted. You will still see deductions on EVERY paycheck, but you will see a credit ONCE a month.

As of July 1, suspension requests are honored effective starting from the date the request is submitted.

To suspend your parking contract, complete the Contract Suspension Request Form

  • Please note that it may take up to three payroll cycles for the change to be reflected on your paycheck.
  • This contract suspension is suspending charges, not the ability to use the parking keycard or hangtag. Parking keycards/hangtags, and reciprocal privileges, remain active even for those who's parking charges are suspended.

Note: If you change your parking contract for any reason, you are required to submit a new suspension request.

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There are many significant financial impacts occurring across the University due to COVID-19. The option to suspend parking contracts will present a challenge to maintaining the current parking rate while also continuing to fund important programs on the Twin Cities campus that are supported by parking revenue. Some of those programs include campus transit and the bike program, and campus infrastructure like streets, sidewalks, and plazas. If you wish to leave your parking contract in place to help the University cover these costs, no action is required. Thank you for considering this option.

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If you choose to suspend the contract, your parking credential will remain active, but you will not be charged to park. 

Canceling Staff/Faculty Parking Contracts

If you wish to permanently cancel your contract, please complete the Contract Cancellation Form. You will then receive a confirmation email with more details. NOTE: This option does not allow you to automatically restart your contract when on-campus operations resume. Also, the ten-day waiting period to cancel your parking contract is being waived and your contract will be cancelled as of the date the form is submitted online.  To CANCEL your parking contract, log in using your internet ID and password. Then, send your hangtag/keycard to PTS at: 300 Transportation & Safety Bldg, 511 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Staff and faculty members who choose to cancel will receive a prorated refund for service not consumed about 4-6 weeks after cancellation. If you need to keep your contract parking, please follow the instructions above on suspending your contract. 

Please find updates and changes with the PTS News/Alerts page and the Safe Campus website.

While these are extraordinary times, PTS is a self-supported department and is working to ensure the University’s parking facilities are prepared for the resumption of normal operations by continuing to maintain safe, clean, and well-maintained parking and to help reduce the need for future rate increases.

Q: How will I see the refund on my parking contract?

A:  Please be aware that parking payroll deductions will continue to be taken out of every paycheck going forward as usualPTS will issue additional credits as time passes and evaluate the amount of additional credit due next at the end of each month. At this time, the University is evaluating and issuing credits monthly. The original suspension of service credit began on March 18 and continues through a future yet to-be-determined date. Thus, the final full value of service credit is still unknown. 

WHAT THIS MEANS:  You will still see deductions on EVERY paycheck, but you will see a credit ONCE a month.  

NOTE:  As of July 1, suspension requests are honored effective starting from the date the request is submitted.

Review the sample paycheck below. Please note, the amounts will vary, dependent on your parking contract location.

sample of what a paycheck looks like

Q:  What is happening with the waiting list?

A:  The waiting list is filled on a case by case basis. Anyone on the waiting list that currently has a contract can use it at any facility. Anyone who is on a waiting list who doesn’t currently have a contract can start a COVID-19 contract.

Q:  Do I have to be an essential employee to suspend my contract? 

A:  No, any University of Minnesota employees can choose to suspend their parking contract regardless of whether they are working onsite, remotely, or both.

Q:  I suspended my contract. Can I still use my keycard or hangtag?

A:  Yes, you may use your parking contract as you normally do even if you do not pay. This applies to all University of Minnesota employees regardless of whether they are working onsite, remotely, or both. You do not need to notify PTS that you are using your parking. 

Q:  If I suspend my contract, do I lose my spot on the waiting list?

A:  No, your waiting list status will not change if you choose to suspend your parking contract.

Q:  If I suspend my contract, do I get my same parking spot back?

A:  Yes, if you suspend your contract, you will get the same parking spot back when regular operations resume.

Q:  Can I have an extended suspension or suspend during a different time?

A:  No, the suspension is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once we are in regular operations, you will no longer have the option to suspend a parking contract and will need to follow the regular cancellation process. The suspension is from now until the remote work mandate is lifted.  The suspension is not based on when classes return to campus.  It is based on when the University faculty and staff no longer are required to work remotely.

Transit Questions

Q:  Will city bus routes continue to serve campus?

A: Metro Transit is operating the buses and light rail.  Visit Metro Transit’s webpage for service information. Learn more about their COVID response.

Q: Will University buses continue to run on campus?

A: Campus bus route details are below (specifics are subject to change): 

    • The Connector and Circulator routes resumed their normal published schedules when classes moved to hybrid mode on Monday September 21.
    • From Monday, Nov. 30 to Thursday, Dec. 23:
      121 - Connector runs 5-minute frequency from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and then 15 minute-frequency from 6:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
      122 - University Avenue Circulator runs 10-minute frequency from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.  
      120 - East Bank Circulator runs 20-minute frequency from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 
      123 - 4th Street Circulator runs 15-minute frequency from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
      124 - St. Paul Circulator runs 20-minute frequency from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
      From Monday, Dec. 28 to Monday, Jan. 18:
      121 - Connector runs 15-minute frequency from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
      122 - Univ. Ave. Circulator runs 15-minute frequency from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
      120 - East Bank Circulator runs 20-minute frequency from 6:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 
      123 & 124 - No Service
    • PTS will monitor capacity and timing, and adjust service levels where needed to maintain physical distancing and scheduled service commitments.
    • Students may be encouraged to choose different transportation modes for short trips (like walking, biking, scooters).  
    • Watch https://www.pts.umn.edu/news for more details.
View a map on our GopherTrip app on your mobile device or click this link to a web-based desktop view: http://umn.rider.peaktransit.com/ (note: you will need to select the bus route labelled 121 Campus Connector COVID19 to see the route currently in service).

Q:  Are riders required to wear masks on the campus buses? 

A:  Yes.  In alignment with the University's announcement, face coverings will be required for all riders unless they are unable to wear it:  https://safe-campus.umn.edu/return-campus/face-coverings

Q:  Will bus drivers kick people off the bus for not wearing a mask?

A: No, campus bus drivers are required to focus their attention on their main duty - safely operating the vehicle.  They will not force riders off University transportation.  Like with the campus smoking policy, it is up to our community to know the rules and act safely.  Community awareness and peer pressure are the tools to enforcement.

Q:  I’m concerned about the cleanliness of the campus buses.  What are you doing to keep them safe?

A: The safety of our community is our top concern.  The company operating University buses has increased health and safety measures with enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures in place. Additionally, riders will need to wear face coverings, wash or sanitize their hands before boarding and maintain social distance. PTS is also working to implement some changes on the buses - posters informing the mask requirement, stickers on the floor to promote distancing, sleeves on seats to encourage riders to space apart, and and adding barriers to the driver seat area.

Q:  Why do you continue to operate campus transit when no one is using it?

A:  The University transit system still has riders, and we take our responsibility to help provide transportation options for the University community very seriously. We have essential employees, as well as students and patients, who may rely on campus transit to get to and/or around campus. We have moved to reduced campus transit service. 

Q: Is Paratransit service operating?

A: As of July 6, Paratransit service is operating.  All time slots are now 30 minutes to accommodate additional cleaning of the van. Drivers will be wearing PPE (masks, faceshields, gloves) and there will be a new partition between the driver and passenger. Hand sanitizer will be available in the vans. In alignment with the University's recent announcement, face coverings will be required for all riders unless they are unable to wear it:  https://safe-campus.umn.edu/return-campus/face-coverings

Another alternative is to check on availability of Metro Transit’s Metro Mobility. Please note that you will need to register to use this service. Consider using University transit (all buses are wheelchair lift equipped) if possible or a TNC service like Lyft or Uber. If possible, for current parking contract holders, we will try to make special, temporary parking accommodations. Send an email to pts@umn.edu.

Q: I will not be on campus.  Can I cancel my Metropass?

A:  Email buspass@umn.edu to request a cancellation with your name and employee ID number.  You may receive a prorated refund for service not consumed about 4-6 weeks after cancellation. Note: you can repurchase your Metropass at anytime. 

Q: I will not be on campus.  Can I get a refund on my U-Pass?

A: Email buspass@umn.edu to request a cancellation with your name and student ID number.  Our staff will contact you for follow-up.

Fleet Services Questions

Q: My department rents vehicles from Fleet Services.  Will that be available?

A: Fleet is renting vehicles for approved essential travel.  Rentals must be requested 24  hours in advance through our rental system.  No walk-in requests will be fulfilled.

Q: I need to cancel a Fleet rental reservation.  Will I be penalized?

A:  No penalty/cancellation fees will be assessed to any customer who is cancelling future reservations due to COVID-19.

Q: I’m concerned about the cleanliness of rented University vehicles.  What are you doing about my concerns?

A: Every rental vehicle has always been cleaned in between rental reservations.  Our Fleet staff has added enhanced cleaning and disinfection of returned rental vehicles to further minimize risks to our customers.

Q: My drivers license is expiring.  What do I need to do?

A: You can find good information on common drivers license questions at the Department of Vehicle Services.