Transit system planning underway
Posted on Sep 25, 2012 in News
UAB committee begins preparation for campus transit
Last week, UAB Parking & Transportation along with Solstice Transportation Group held separate focus groups for off-campus, on-campus and international students to discuss the proposed Campus Mass Transit Plan, a project that will establish a bus system for UAB employees and students.
Subject to Board approval, the University hopes to begin integrating the system by mid-spring semester and expects to have the project completed by fall 2013.
UAB Department of Parking and Transportation engaged Solstice to assist with the development of the Campus Mass Transit Plan in July. The transportation group is conducting a Feasibility Study throughout the planning and assessment process. The goal is to have this process complete by October 10th.
“Our project objectives for the Campus Mass Transit Plan are to maximize the transportation spend, identify near and long-term future transit needs, establish a transportation contractor that meets service standards, and develop an operating plan,” said Mitch Skyer, President of Solstice Transportation Group.
Depending on the budget, supported by UAB central administration, the Mass Transit Plan will operate up to 11 buses, which is subject to change based on rider traffic and experience. Buses will operate in a 3-mile radius around UAB.
“As the scoping and design phase for the new system is still underway, we do not yet have an estimate for the annual cost of the system. Funding sources for the initial transit system will depend on the final cost, and at this point is expected to come from existing UAB transit budgets as well as central administration. The cost of the system will depend on the final design and results of competitive proposals received from transportation companies. As the system evolves over time, funding will as well,” said Chris Clifford, Associate Vice President of Business & Auxiliary Services.
UAB Parking and Transportation is currently working with Solstice to finalize the bus routes. The intent of the routes is to facilitate student and employee transportation as efficiently as possible.
“We plan on having 24-hour service availability depending on scaled routes,” said Andre’ Davis, Director of Parking & Transportation Services.
Between approximately 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., all bus routes will be running; scaled routes will be covered in all other hours. The bus will pick up approximately every 15 minutes.
Students will be able to locate buses and routes via a Smartphone application or on the web.
Solstice suggested that routes be designed to individually cater to all users without the need for a bus transfer.
“I don’t personally believe in transfers on a university campus. We don’t think there are any common pathways that will require a transfer, but technically speaking, the far end points on the transit map may involve a bus transition,” said Skyer.
“We have discussed a ‘Vouching Policy’ where a student with an ID can vouch for friends and family members to ride on the bus,” said Davis.
The University will embark upon a massive marketing campaign to publicize the bus system before its launch.
“We are considering a contest for the bus system’s name. Other schools have named their transit system The Harvard Shuttle (Harvard University), The Crimson Ride (University of Alabama), and The Tiger Trail (Auburn University),” said Skyer.
Solstice and UAB Parking and Transportation Services met with Student Life about the options for the bus usage. After the bus system is integrated, it will be an option for Student Life to utilize the buses instead of shuttles for events such as football games.
“UAB has discussed environmental concerns as a secondary priority, but no final decision has been made,” said Skyer.
UAB Department of Parking and Transportation is investigating alternative fuel sources as part of this study, including compressed natural gas (CNG).
Skyer did mention that if the administration begins to advocate for environmental considerations, it might be an option.