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Parking and transportation receives facelift

As with the start of any semester, commuters can expect extra traffic flow. But as construction of a new parking garage continues, Greg Sylvester, director of Parking and Transportation Services, is trying to ease traffic by making the shuttle service more appealing to students who live on or nearby campus.

Sylvester said his department is working on equipping Bull Runners with a global positioning system so students can better fit shuttle times into their schedules.

During the 2003-04 academic year, the Bull Runner service is estimated to carry more than 1.1 million people, Sylvester said.

Except for the peak traffic hours, shuttles are expected to run 10 minutes apart from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. With the addition of a GPS, Sylvester hopes to have more riders for the following academic year.

The ultimate goal of the GPS project, Sylvester said, is the possibility for people to locate online exactly where each shuttle is on their particular routes.

The New System

Because the GPS will not be implemented until mid-semester, Sylvester encourages students to contact Parking and Transportation Services if problems with shuttle arrival times occur.

The system, he added, will allow the Parking and Transportation Services office to track down the locations of the shuttles at any given time.

Sylvester wouldn’t disclose the cost of the system, but said the funding for the project will come from Parking and Transportation Services’ budget. He added that they may receive a grant from Center for Urban Transportation Research for studying the effects of real time information on transit ridership.

The GPS project, which is in partnership with the CUTR and the School of Engineering partnership, was tested last fall on a single shuttle. In addition, the Parking and Transportation Services office is still working on the software needed for the development.

Another concept that was put into practice last fall was the Bull Runner Extended, otherwise known as the shuttle service provider for evenings and weekends. According to Sylvester, this service has gotten excellent feedback from students since the new schedule was first implemented.

“I just got a note from a student saying that the BRX shuttle concept is the best idea (Parking and Transportation Services) has come up with,” Sylvester said. “So far the BRX is going pretty good. There has been decent ridership and positive comments on it, so there are no plans to change that (schedule) anytime soon.”

Sylvester recommends again this semester that when students are not able to find a spot after five to 10 minutes, they should find a spot in the Park-n-Ride lots where he says there is always space available. Sylvester said people should keep in mind that in order to park on campus parking decals are required.

Parking Construction Update

Sylvester stated that the parking construction, behind the Student Services building, is on schedule in spite of some problems encountered during the break.

“The garage (in front of the library) is coming along okay even though there has been some issues with the foundation, like some sinkholes which are not totally unexpected because we are in Florida,” he said. “As of right now, we are still looking at an August 2004 opening of the garage.”

A parking expansion that might affect resident students is the closure of the entrance to Lot 16 from Fletcher Avenue, which will be in progress throughout the semester. Sylvester said the new entrance for Lot 16 would be off Palm Avenue only.

There will not be any additional parking spaces for the spring semester anywhere on campus. The spaces will remain the same as the fall semester, Sylvester said, although part of that new construction project in Lot 16 will create more resident parking spaces accessible in Fall 2004.