Bowdoin students now have reason to think twice before parking in the admissions lot when they're running late for class.

Following the recommendations of a private parking consultant, Bowdoin Security is cracking down on parking enforcement this year to help alleviate the parking situation.

One of the changes to Security's parking policies most directly affecting students is increased consequences of receiving too many parking tickets. While official policy called for the revocation of parking privileges after six or more parking tickets, students could accumulate a large number of parking tickets?one student last year received 15?without any disciplinary action or having their vehicle towed.

Under the new ticketing policy, students can receive up to three $25 parking tickets or warnings without risk of further penalty. Upon obtaining the fourth ticket, the fee is doubled and the student's car will be towed for a charge of $50. After six violations, the student's parking privilege is revoked and he or she is reported to the dean of student affairs.

Students cars will also be ticketed and towed if they park in marked "no parking" areas, such as fire lanes and emergency access areas. The fine for parking in a disabled-person space is still $200, to be enforced by the Brunswick police.

Because of the increased severity of the new policy, there is a two-and-a-half week "courtesy warning" window, which started August 29 and ends September 17, in which students will not be ticketed or fined but receive a warning card. The warnings do not contribute to the three allowed warnings or tickets before a towing and increased fine.

The idea behind the courtesy window was to "roll out the new policy gradually" by informing the community before penalizing them, and as a result of the informational period, "we expect to tow very few vehicles," said Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols.

The efforts are part of a larger campaign to increase the amount of visitor parking on campus. Currently, visitors are allowed to park in any dark blue (faculty and staff) decal lot. During workday hours, these lots are often full of faculty and staff vehicles, leaving visitors to scramble for the few public parking spots on the street. Day-to-day parking problems are exacerbated during sporting or campus events, when the influx of visitors forces faculty and staff out of their designated lots.

Last winter the College brought in Walker Parking Consultants, the world's largest parking consulting firm, to assess the situation. The decision to do so came two years after the writing of a strategic master plan for the College, which contained recommendations for the physical campus in the year 2010, but did not address the issue of parking.

"Each time we approached the town and neighbors with a new building project, they would ask us, 'What is your parking plan?' So it seemed prudent to develop an overall parking plan along side the campus plan, and to bring in some parking experts to help," said Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Katy Longley.

Over the course of January and February 2006, Walker Parking Consultants spent two weeks on campus surveying the parking situation. The company found that the current parking capacity on campus was inadequate, and that "reliance on public spots [i.e. Park Row, Bath Road] is 'real.'"

New lots have been proposed for Farley Field House, as well as a temporary lot to take the place of the soon-to-be demolished Dayton Arena. The addition of these two new parking lots, scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2008, will provide 568 parking spaces, a statistic that led Walker to conclude that "with the proposed additional parking capacity at Farley, improved utilization and better enforcement, there is adequate parking capacity on campus."

Other short-term initiatives recommended by Walker to alleviate the parking crunch in the short term, which are reflected in Bowdoin Security's new parking policies for the academic year, include increased signage in parking areas, as well as larger and more colorful parking decals on registered cars.

Longley viewed the increased visibility of parking signs as a way to better inform visitors of the parking regulations on campus.

"Better signage will help everyone who comes to Bowdoin. No one from the outside knows what a 'blue lot' means, and many of our signs are inconsistent," Longley said. "Last year we installed new directional signs around the perimeter of the campus and we've been told the signs have helped improve navigation."

The design of this year's decals came from Walker's recommendation that enforcement should be stepped up to keep students from parking in visitor or faculty and staff lots, thereby further reducing the amount of spaces available to those members of the community.

With brighter, larger decals, "it is clear to the entire community what the stickers mean and how to read them. This allows us to achieve a higher level of compliance," said Nichols. Students also are only assigned to one lot, as opposed to last year, when more than one lot bore the same color parking decal.

Further short-term suggestions include a Zip Car-type car-sharing service and a promotion of alternatives to driving around campus, such as improved lighting, better snow and ice removal from pathways, paving, and the installation of security call boxes.

In the long term, Walker suggested the creation of a culture that depended less on cars for transportation around campus, and more on supporting "longer walks and designated parking for students and staff."