Representatives from the University of Connecticut’s Parking and Transportation Services discussed ridership statistics and lot closures at an open forum Thursday night.
Katharine Otto, Windham Regional Transit District transportation planner, and Dwight Atherton, UConn Parking Services Associate Director, spoke on the 2015 Campus Master Plan, noting that parking Lot L and the upper portion of Lot X were closed, and Lot N and the remainder of Lot X will be permanently closed by January.
The closures are due to construction of the new science building and utility supplement plant, Otto and Atherton said.
To account for the lack of space, Lot K, located on Discovery Drive near the Innovation Partnership Building, opened with 700 new parking spots, Atherton and Otto said.
Other changes in transportation this semester included altering bus routes so none hit more than one major parking or residential area at a time, 10-15 minute service-to-commuter stops and the addition of more stops to lines with higher ridership, Atherton and Otto said.
Currently, UConn transportation is comprised of 1.1 million passengers, 14 buses, 70 bus stops, two new weekend routes and 55 Accessible Van Drivers, the presentation said.
The number of riders has increased greatly from last year and has increased each week of the semester, Otto said, with the potential for further increase as the weather gets colder.
“We don’t know what’s to come as the weather gets worse,” Otto said, noting one solution is a sweeper bus that can pick up different routes at different times of the day as needed. “This year, we started with the average of last semester and have kept building, so it’s going to be interesting.”
Last year, bus routes would service roughly 7,000 to 8,000 riders a day and 12,000 riders in bad weather, Otto said.
When asked about sustainability, Atherton and Otto spoke on carpooling services and the potential for electric buses.
“It’s very easy to talk about sustainability, but it’s very important to do it in a way that makes sense,” Atherton said.
Otto said she hopes students take advantage of carpooling services provided in areas not serviced by buses.
“We have had carpool services available for two years and we haven’t used them properly,” Otto said. “If we can get them out there, then you could match up with other students on campus that are already taking that ride.”
Otto said outreach with students along with Off-Campus Student Services is important to work together to help improve transportation services.
“It’s a two-way street,” Otto said. “You provide us with information with good questions that spark ideas that we can then move forward … to something better.”