How the University of Arizona improved access on its Tucson campus

September 26, 2017

The University of Arizona, home of the Arizona Wildcats, is a sprawling university in the heart of Tucson, Arizona, a growing metropolis of 1,000,000. The University is home to more than 44,000 students and 12,000 employees – and there are 17,000 parking spaces shared between faculty, staff, students, and visitors.

Herding Cats

From rideshares, carpools, and vanpools to Sun Tran (Tucson’s public transit), to the campus’ Cat Tran Shuttle, and park and ride lots, managing the transportation demands of this robust campus is a challenging job.

Mike Delahanty, former operations manager for the University’s Parking and Transportation Services, is always interested in efficiency. With more than a hand on the pulse of the campus, he knew that he needed to make some changes to improve throughput in his largest garage. Access control at this garage was handled with a swipe system and only had one point of exit. During peak hours, traffic would stack up on the ramps.

In fact, a conventional swipe card takes, on average, more than 34% longer than RFID-based AVI technology. It requires the driver to come to a complete stop, roll down their window, swipe their card, and roll the window back up. This time spent entering the parking facility had to be improved.

Finding A Solution

Mike Delahanty did his research. He used the Internet and parking industry magazines to get background information on the different technologies and vendors. He met people at industry trade shows and settled on AVI as the technology after considering solutions like barcodes. In 2002 TransCore and another RFID vender were brought in for a month-long trial. At the end of the month it was a simple decision: TransCore outperformed the competition and won the project hands down. In fact, the trial was so successful that the people who participated protested when they had to give their tags back!

Technology Makes Wildcats Purr

While Delahanty knew that he’d enjoy improved throughput, he didn’t anticipate the extent that automatic vehicle technology would impact his organization.

  • Throughput actually tripled.

  • Anti-passback technology significantly reduced fraudulent tag usage – students can’t use their tags to let multiple vehicles into a garage.

  • Customer complaints about the exhaust from idling vehicles were eliminated.

  • Data collected from TransCore readers seamlessly integrates into T2’s automated back office to make account management simple.

  • The readers are incredibly durable, essentially eliminating costly maintenance.


Hard case tags are turned in when the permit holder leaves the University or decides on alternate transportation solutions. Reprogramming them is simple and they can be used again for several years.

 Since the TransCore parking system of readers and tags was installed in 2002, the system has grown to 48 lanes and more than 30,000 hard case tags have been deployed. Every March, tag holders are given the chance to renew. If the tag isn’t renewed, it becomes available during April’s open registration. Applying for the tags is done on a first come, first serve basis – and every year the tags are sold out.

 Over a decade later, Mike Delahanty knows he made the right decision to choose TransCore’s products. “Our permit holders love the AVI solution we offer. It makes parking easier and safer. We’ve enjoyed working with TransCore through the years and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend TransCore’s parking system to anyone who wants to improve the efficiency of their parking solution and make their customers happy.”