Campus commute options in the offing

by Gavin Wilson
Staff writer

At one time, most everyone drove to UBC and parked in one of the vast surface parking lots. Those days are gone.

The university is looking at a wide range of alternatives to car commuting as it seeks to reduce single-occupant vehicle traffic by 20 per cent, said Geoff Atkins, associate vice-president, Land and Building Services.

As far as Atkins is concerned, everything is on the table and worth a look, including telecommuting, flexible work and classroom schedules, dial-a-ride systems, a fleet of campus bikes and retrofitting campus buildings with showers and lockers.

His top priority, however, is improved B.C. Transit service to campus.

"B.C. Transit keeps telling us they have confined resources and we are sympathetic to that, but we won't get anywhere if B.C. Transit is waiting for someone to give them more money," said Atkins, a frequent transit user himself.

"We need better service and we have to think about creative ways of making things happen."

Another way UBC will meet its 20 per cent vehicle reduction is a U-Pass system similar to the highly successful University of Washington program that offers increased bus service, campus shuttles, free carpool parking, vanpools and bike lockers.

UBC will spend $250,000 a year on its own U-Pass system, which is scheduled to begin in September, 1999.

"We've made a commitment to do that and we will have it in place. Perhaps not necessarily the same as the University of Washington's, but with a lot of its essential elements."

For now, Atkins is looking at other creative solutions to campus transit problems.

One of these is a free bike system where bicycles are provided for anyone who wishes to use them on campus. Atkins envisages buying old bikes at auctions and restoring them.

"Stanford University for example has an aggressive bike usage program. We may be able to have one of our own in place, perhaps as early as next summer."