FLORENCE, Ala. (WAAY)--On-campus parking can be hard to find at the University of North Alabama. It's an even bigger problem this year now that construction has eliminated more than 300 parking spaces.
"We have a parking deficit here and ever since I've been here it has been tough to find enough parking for everybody" said UNA Police Chief Bob Pastula.
That's why the university has the Lion's Way Express that uses 5 shuttle buses running different routes from 6 a.m to 6 p.m five days a week.
The buses stop at student apartments and two off-campus parking lots located at the Florence parking garage and a church on Darby Drive.
Freshman, like Hallie Olive, who don't live in a dorm have to park off- campus. Everyday, Olive parks in the off-campus parking lot on Darby Drive so she can catch the bus.
"I always worry that I might be late because you don't know about the bus" said Olive.
When classes started on Wednesday, UNA launched a new feature on their free mobile app and website. Now students like Olive can use their phone see where the bus is and when it will arrive at their stop.
"If you know you're going to have to wait for another 10 minutes then you can go and do something else rather than having to sit out here and wonder when the bus is going to get here so I think that makes it a lot more efficient" said Olive.
UNA added the tracking program to encourage more students to park in the off-campus parking lots.
"They're parking illegally in Florence and Florence is writing them tickets. I've seen them parking over here at the doctors office. There going to get towed" said Pastula. "I'm trying to help the students avoid those kind of problems and if they take advantage of our program, they won't have that."
Currently, 400 students ride the campus buses but Pastula hopes that number increases by 20 percent.
"If they don't start using the off-campus parking, one other option is to not allow freshman to have cars on campus and it may come to that if they don't start taking advantage of it" said Pastula.
The app is available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices. Apps for Windows phones and tablets will be out soon. The free app can be found by searching for the University of North Alabama. Once the app is installed, click on the bus locator icon. The locator is also available at www.una.edu/police/bus-routes.html.