Despite widespread complaints on social media Saturday, the company that developed Penn State football’s new game day parking system said the changes are generally going according to plan.
The Penn State-Pittsburgh football game Saturday was the first major test for the university’s new parking system, which was developed by event logistics service SP+.
Traffic jams persisted throughout State College, including Atherton Street, Beaver Avenue and Interstate 99, with some fans complaining on social media about sitting in traffic for more than an hour.
Altoona Mirror managing editor Neil Rudel, who has covered Penn State football for more than 40 years, tweeted it was “by far” the worst pre-game traffic he’s seen.
SP+ Senior Vice President Don Jordan said feedback has been “quite positive” overall, but acknowledged some have been negatively affected. Data and video from each game is being reviewed so tweaks can be made in the future, he said.
“The plan was built to create an overall improvement of the movement of up to 30,000 vehicles on roads never designed to handle such a load,” Jordan said in a statement. “We continue to review the specifics on any complaints to confirm whether it is more isolated or a fundamental issue.”
The university deferred comment to SP+.
There was a “major spike” in vehicles without parking passes for the Pitt game that backed up Atherton Street, Jordan said. Game day parking permits were sold out by Wednesday night, according to the university’s athletics department.
Many drivers also erroneously turned onto Park Avenue, which created backups for season ticket holders. Saturday was the first time that happened, Jordan said.
Each of the first three games — which were played at three different times — presented “different and evolving” dynamics, Jordan said. Adjustments were made each game, including staffing, placement, traffic control equipment, signage and communications.
One consistent challenge, however, is ride-sharing services en route to Beaver Stadium, Jordan said.
Drivers who “constantly” test various entry points in an effort to get fans on less congested roads are forced to turn around, which has created “unnecessary congestion” for fans in personal vehicles, Jordan said.
He encouraged fans and ride-sharing services to use the Waze app and follow the displayed route to get to the permitted lot.
During the Nittany Lions’ bye week, SP+ plans to speak with key operational stakeholders “to be as thorough as possible” for the four remaining home games, Jordan said.