600 scooters impounded for parking violations during one month on UT campus

Scooter parking rules implemented at the University of Texas-Austin campus have generated tens of thousands of dollars in just one month. 

“It's almost like night and day when you walk outside,” said Blanca Gamez, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services at UT.  

UT started enforcing rules regarding electric scooter parking after several complaints about scooters blocking right of ways. 

“If they're parked in front of doors, blocking ramps, as well as sidewalks, and parking spots, that are thrown out in the middle of the street, along speedway plaza, those we're going to pick up,” Gamez said.  

Parking and Transportation Services began charging companies $150 per impounded scooter in late-January. Those costs are usually passed on to the last person who rode it. 

“Students don't have $150 to just throw away on fines,” said Gabriel Cuneo, a freshman at UT.   

The University said they have already impounded about 600 scooters and relocated another 1,000, but, since adding scooter parking zones, the number of scooters parked illegally has greatly been reduced.

“So I used to live in west campus last year and it was super annoying because people would leave the scooters in the middle of the road or the sidewalk… That's not so much a problem anymore since they don't want to get fined for leaving it anywhere,” said Katie Na, an UT senior.  

“It's generated quite a bit of money. It's probably maybe around roughly or so $60,000,” Gamez said.  

Scooters can still be parked in marked areas and bike racks, something many cyclists have already grown tired of. 

“I don't bike to campus anymore, but it does take up a lot of the space and makes it a lot harder to take your bike out. So I think there's probably some sort of design improvement that could be done,” said Na.  

After new enforcement policies rolled out, stories about improper fines started taking off. 

“I have had a friend who had his impounded and it was unfairly impounded, because he parked it in a bike rack and they still charged him money for it because the GPS was off,” Cuneo said.  

“He tried to do the right thing and he still got fined the $150,” said Laci Baker, speaking about one of her fellow students. 

The initiative has also put the brakes on the number of scooter users on campus.

“A lot more people just walking again, so that's good,” Na said. 

The University said, if compliance becomes an issue again, banning scooters from campus is not off the table. 

Any money generated from impound fees goes towards Parking and Transportation Services programs.