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Name the new UAB bus system
Employees and students are invited to participate in a contest to name the new UAB bus system. Visit www.uab.edu/namethebus and fill out the name submission form. An Apple iPad Mini will be awarded to the winner. If there are multiple submissions with the same winning name, a random drawing from those submissions will be held to determine the winner. The contest will begin May 7 and all submissions are due by May 21.
UA System Board of Trustees approves new UAB transit system
UAB Parking & Transportation Services is partnering with First Transit, the nation’s leading bus transportation provider, to bring a new transit system to UAB beginning this summer. The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees approved the bus system, which will be open to all UAB faculty, staff, students and approved visitors, at its April meeting.
The system, which will be named through an employee and student contest, will be implemented in two phases. Phase I, which will consist of bus routes for employees who park in Remote Parking Lots No. 1 and No. 2, begins the week of July 8. These buses will primarily transport hospital employees from remote parking areas into the medical core of campus, but they will be open to anyone with a UAB-issued ID. Phase II, which will add new circulating routes serving the entire campus and medical district, is scheduled for Jan. 2014.
“The system will be a transformational step for UAB,” says Chris Clifford, associate vice president for Business and Auxiliary Services. “It will provide reliable, timely and customer-friendly transportation service to the entire UAB community.
“Our focus with this system is to thoroughly serve the transportation needs of our employees and students and lessen the car traffic on campus,” Clifford continues. “We believe this system, which is state-of-the-art and high-tech, will enhance the campus experience for our customers and ease parking challenges. It will make transportation easier and safer and ultimately be a more efficient way to move people around UAB.”
The full fleet will consist of 12 buses, says André Davis, director of Parking & Transportation Services. It will replace the current Campus Ride/Escort systems that have served the institution well, but that the university has now outgrown.
“Due to the continued growth in the number of UAB students, staff, faculty, visitors and the expansion of the UAB physical campus, the new bus transit system will assist in meeting the current and future transit needs of the UAB community,” Davis says. “UAB now encompasses more than 80 city blocks, and employees and students need a way to efficiently access the campus without moving their cars. If you visit most large universities in this country, they have a bus system on their campus. That’s how they move employees and students around campus, and that’s what we need to fit all facets of our growing infrastructure.”
The cost of the new system will be covered primarily by redirecting budgets currently used for other transportation options, including Campus Ride and the current remote shuttle bus service.
Campus service ’round the clock
The system will be a 24-hour weekday operation and stops will be located so that all points on campus are no more than a five-minute walk from a stop. Traffic and site studies have been conducted to determine the best stop locations. A detailed map of the routes and bus stop locations will be provided this summer.
Parking & Transportation held several employee and student forums this past year to gather information about on-campus transportation needs. Employee and student feedback and ideas have been considered and incorporated into this new effort.
“For example,” Davis says, “based on student feedback, we’re planning to have a bus that will take students to local shopping areas at least one day per week.”
Each bus will be handicap-accessible, seat 30 to 35 passengers and have additional room for 12 to 15 people to stand. That will mean the fleet could carry up to 200 people at one time, a large increase from the 30-person maximum that the six current Campus Ride vans can accommodate. During peak work and school hours, at least eight buses will be running at once, with wait times at each stop from eight to 12 minutes. Scheduling for off-peak and secondary off-peak hours is yet to be determined, but wait times for those shifts are expected to be 15 to 20 minutes.
Follow that bus!
All of the buses in the fleet will feature GPS transponder technology, enabling employees and students to see where the buses are located in real time on their smartphones and desktop computers. This will allow riders to wait until they know a bus is coming before going to a bus stop.
TV monitors that show the location and movement of each bus will be installed in high-traffic areas around campus.
The buses will be painted in UAB green and gold and the system will have its own logo to make it instantly recognizable. The design of the logo and bus appearance will be undertaken after a “Name the Bus” contest is completed in May.
“This system will belong to the UAB community and we want the name to reflect our unique Blazer pride and culture,” Clifford says.
“We’re doing our absolute best to make this a service that employees and students are proud to ride,” Davis says. “We’re going to be very diligent in making sure that, from day one, this system runs like clockwork.”