NORMAN — Sooner fans riding the shuttle from the Lloyd Noble Center parking lot to the stadium today may get a pleasant surprise. The service, which was $2 last season, is now free. The University of Oklahoma did away with the fee to comply with a new Federal Transit Administration regulation regarding charter service. The rule prohibits local transit authorities from offering game day service to fans if the fee is higher than the regular fare. CART service from the Lloyd Noble Center is offered for free on weekdays to students, faculty and staff. Theta Dempsey, director of parking and transportation service for OU, said the university already was considering options for game day parking when the federal rule was announced. "That was the tipping point for us on making the shuttle service no charge,” she said. By definition, if the service is free it's no longer considered a charter service, so the federal regulation won't apply, she said.
Street parking changesAbout 4,000 passengers use the shuttle for each game, said Kris Glenn, marketing and public relations specialist for OU's parking and transportation department. "It's our hope that if it's free, more people will ride,” Glenn said. Many Sooner fans will be searching for a new place to park because the Norman Police Department has said officers will no longer allow cars to park on both sides of residential streets on campus. Norman Police Capt. Mike Praizner said it is a safety issue when an ambulance can't get through the street. Parking violators will now face warnings, citations or be towed.
Other parking optionsThe university also is opening a new paid parking lot on the east side of George Avenue, between Lindsey and Stinson Streets. The lot can accommodate 700 cars and a spot will cost $10. But the lot will only be open during good weather because it is unpaved. Fans can also park in lots east of the Lloyd Noble Center, such as the National Weather Service building, and catch the shuttle at the Lloyd Noble Center. First Baptist Church, at 211 W Comanche St., will continue to offer a shuttle and parking on game days. A $7 donation is requested for parking, but the shuttle is free and fans don't have to park there to catch the shuttle. Illustration by Chris Schoelen