The Barnacle

A student examines the Barnacle, a parking device that will be used on campus instead of towing, placed on their windshield.

The barnacle, a system used instead of towing cars committing parking violations on campus, is so far succeeding, University of Kansas Transportation Services Director Donna Hultine said.

The barnacle is a newly-developed enforcement tool that is being introduced on several college campuses across the US. The tool locks to the violating vehicle's windshield via suction cups to obstruct the driver's view. The tool is equipped with a GPS device that sends a tamper warning if the impounded vehicle is moving.

The barnacle makes it possible for violators to pay their tickets online and have the device removed on their own, Hultine said.

“What happens most of the time is it [the barnacle] gets released, without our intervention at all, and returned to the box,” Hultine said. “We never engage with the person that got barnacled.”

KU intended to deploy the barnacle since last year, but the plans were delayed by student discontent on other college campuses in the US, Hultine said.

“We took a step back and we decided we were going to try to do an education campaign and a soft rollout over the summer,” she said.

In contrast to towing, the barnacle is less costly and more convenient not only for KU Parking, but also for violators, Hultine said. Towing involves additional charges, including a fee to a towing company.

“It is also a little kinder to the person that we are impounding,” she said.

Overall, the new method has been quite successful with few exceptions, Hultine said. There have been incidents where violators tried to forcefully remove the barnacle. Such attempts can result in damage to the device, which incurs additional charges. 

“I really want everybody to just not get tickets, but if you're going to get tickets, this is an easier way to have to be reminded to pay them,” she said.

Hultine encourages students to read the instructions carefully and seek assistance from KU Parking if needed.