U program lets drivers park free overnight

The program, SnOasis, allows vehicle owners to park their car for free in designated parking ramps during declared snow emergencies.

Frank

The first major snowstorm of the season passed through the Twin Cities this week, and a snow emergency resulted in 1,052 cars towed in Minneapolis since Tuesday. But as drivers rush to secure their vehicles from the impound lot, a program sponsored by the city of Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota, called âÄúSnOasis,âÄù lets vehicle owners park their cars in designated parking ramps, free of charge during snow emergencies. âÄúWe donâÄôt want to see students getting their cars towed,âÄù said Jacqueline Brudlos, spokeswoman for the UniversityâÄôs Parking and Transportation Services. Between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. on the first day of a declared snow emergency, the 4th Street Ramp on the East Bank as well as the 21st Avenue Ramp on the West Bank are open. After 8 a.m., if a vehicle is still there from the night before, it would be charged the standard hourly fee for parking at the ramp. Ramp owners ultimately decide whether or not to participate in the program, city spokesman Matt Laible said. Several SnOasis parking ramps have closed in the past few years after ownership of the ramp was sold by the city. The University also has their own parking program called the Free Night program run by PTS. Unlike SnOasis, the Free Night program applies every night between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. In addition to the 4th Street and 21st Avenue ramps, the Gortner ramp in St. Paul is also part of the Free Night program. âÄúItâÄôs a nice additional marketing tool,âÄù Brudlios said. âÄúBasically anyone can park in any of these three places.âÄù While the two programs have potential to save many drivers from paying the impound fee, Brudlios believes that not enough people take advantage of the programs. âÄúWe try to promote them as much as we can and we try to get the word out with students, but I do believe they are underutilized,âÄù Brudlios said. Information about the two parking programs can be found in University marketing brochures as well as at special events such as first-year orientation or at the annual transportation fair. âÄúWe would definitely like to see more people take advantage of the program,âÄù Brudlos said.