New Transit System Expected to Help Ease University’s Rapid Growth
April 2nd, 2007 - Filed under: Cover Story
The University’s parking and transportation department is about four months from seeing its one of its biggest projects to date becoming a reality.
This summer, the implementation of Crimson Ride, UA’s new transit system, will bring sweeping changes in the way everyone moves about the campus. While faculty, staff and students have been thinking about the change for the past few months, transportation services/transit has been preparing for the past few years.
An increase in enrollment, an on-campus housing requirement, new construction and increasing parking and traffic concerns all amplified UA’s need for a comprehensive intra-campus transit system, said Virginia “Gina” Johnson, associate vice president for auxiliary services.
In carrying out the University’s vision for growth, the following goals were set for the campus transit system:
- Decrease vehicular traffic and parking congestion on campus
- Increase pedestrian safety and access by restricting driving in the academic inner core of campus
- Add more bicycle lanes and make all streets bicycle accessible
- Enhance student safety during evening hours
- Reduce the number of vehicles traveling on campus
- Improve campus aesthetics
- Improve town/gown relationship by easing parking problems in nearby neighborhoods
Operated by First Transit, the Crimson Ride transit system will have 17 buses, each with a capacity to serve 36 people seated or a total of 90 seated and standing. First Transit serves as the primary transit provider for at least eight university or college campuses.
Fifteen Crimson Ride buses will run between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and seven buses will run from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. week days. Also, two buses will be held in reserve and all buses are wheelchair accessible.
“The goal of the system is to move people on campus in an efficient manner,” said Ronnie Robertson, director of transportation services. “If you miss a bus, you shouldn’t have to wait more than five minutes before the next bus arrives. Also, because the buses have a GPS system, you can use a cell phone or computer to access the Web site and see the buses moving in real time.”
Bus stops will be marked by signage, but no permanent signs or shelters will be erected until permanent routes have been determined.
“We will try to have stops where covered porches or spaces currently exist until final decisions have been made, which should happen about six or seven months after the system has been implemented,” he said.
Implementing the transit system will require several roadside parking changes. To allow for transit lanes, all parking will be removed from the following streets: Second Street, Fourth Street, Sixth Avenue, Seventh Avenue (north of Campus Drive), Ninth Avenue, Stadium Drive, Hackberry Lane, Devotie Drive, and University Boulevard (campus area only). Also, some parking spaces will be removed along Capstone and Colonial Drives.
Currently, 5,664 parking spaces are available for faculty and staff. As a result of construction and transit operations, 339 of those spaces will be eliminated. However, a new parking lot is being considered, said Chris D’Esposito, assistant director of transportation services.
“If it proves cost effective, a perimeter lot will be constructed on the grassy area just west of the University Medical Center and south of the recreation fields. The plan for the new lot will be presented at the next board of trustees meeting. If approved, 800 new perimeter parking spaces will be offered at a reduced parking permit rate,” D’Esposito said. Other parking changes that affect faculty and staff include the following:
- Commuter parking will be removed from Seventh Avenue south of campus, north of Capstone and replaced with all faculty/staff parking.
- The brown/red zoned parking will be removed from the gravel lot at Bryant Drive and Seventh Avenue and replaced with green faculty/staff parking.
- Commuter parking will be removed from the rear of H.M. Comer (MIB) and replaced with faculty/staff parking.
- All decal parking will be removed from the rear of the Medical Center lot and replaced with faculty/staff parking.
- The south Ferguson timed parking lot will change to a reserved lot.
- Commuter parking will be removed from Gordon Palmer and replaced with all faculty/staff parking.
- Residential parking will be removed from the Campus Drive Deck and replaced with all faculty/staff and commuter.
Faculty and staff may register for parking online or in person for perimeter parking at $80, regular parking at $125 and reserved parking at $310. A one-time payment may be made or a five-month payroll deduction. Employees also may opt out and not receive a permit.
“As soon as the spring semester ends we will start transitioning. Notices will be sent about the changes and the dates for parking registration,” said Robertson.
For more information and to view the PowerPoint presentation on Crimson Ride, visit http://bamaparking. ua.edu/ or contact Hazel Kimbrell at 348-5471 to schedule a presentation.
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