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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Parking peril for commuters


Most UB commuters would probably agree that venturing to and from campus each day is not the easiest task. UB 2020 has not forgotten about the needs of the commuters. With extensive improvement in the planning phase, progress could be seen as early as this upcoming fall.

"There are a variety of programs for commuters that are on-going that are building blocks for UB 2020," said Chris Austin, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services.

Austin said that an expected 10,000 additional students will attend UB with the launch of UB 2020, along with the academic and residential building expansions. Parking is a crucial aspect in the planning of these major projects.

"The potential for parking lots further out is an option on the table to handle the increase," Austin said. "There is also potential for different park and ride lots."

Brooke Cotton, a senior English major, commutes from Tonawanda because of her close proximity to campus as well as the desire to save money. Cotton said that unless she arrives earlier in the day, parking is very difficult on campus.

Cotton frequently uses the park and ride service and parks at the Center for Tomorrow. She said the service can be helpful, but she has to arrive early in order to catch the shuttles, and take the time to ride it to the academic complex.

"I think more punctual and dependable shuttles would be one way to improve the system," Cotton said. "Another way would be to add more parking spaces."

Austin said they are looking to increase the frequency of the busses at the shuttle stops. He also said that Parking and Transportation Services plans on raising awareness of the shuttle alternative in order to increase usage. Faculty members are also encouraged to use the park and ride services.

According to Austin, Parking and Transportation Services calculate approximately one bus for every 1,000 students. With UB 2020, there will be an additional 10 buses for the park and ride services.

"I think an obvious improvement that could be made is to put a parking ramp in one of the close lots, such as Governors or Hochsetter," said Jeremy Wojcicki, a junior math major, who commutes from Cheektowaga. "Although the cost is great on the ramp itself, we pay enough money into the campus."

Austin said that parking structures have been a consideration, but costs have been a factor.

Although expanded parking lots, parking ramps and increased shuttle buses are farther down the road, there will be new programs, such as commuter-only parking lots, to help the situation as early as next fall. On the North campus, Jacobs B and Hochsetter B parking lots are expected to be the commuter-only lots.

"Additional parking restrictions might be necessary in the future, such as restricting freshmen from bringing cars to campus, or a residential parking program where freshman can only park at their residential areas," Austin said. "Many other campuses don't even allow freshmen to bring vehicles to campus at all."

Alexandra Danakas, a sophomore biomedical science major, commutes from Williamsville, because she likes having a place to get away from the whole school atmosphere.

"One big improvement would be having the plows clear over the parking spots," Danakas said. "When the snow covers the lines, people park half in two spots, making less space for people arriving later. One thing we don't need is less parking."

Shannon Conway, a sophomore pharmacy major, has a 30-minute commute from Lancaster, but can sometimes take up to an hour if it's snowy. She said that she likes commuting because it saves money, especially since she only has classes four days a week this semester.

"I have the paid parking this year. I love it. $100 for the entire year is convenient, especially for commuters," Conway said. "Freshman year I would leave a lot early because I knew that I would literally be hunting for a parking spot."

Emily Janicz, a junior accounting major, has about a 45-minute commute from Akron, and does not recommend commuting as an option for other students. Janicz said that she wishes to spend less time in her car.

"Parking is definitely a constant source of stress for commuter students," Janicz said. "I have to worry about arriving at campus at least a half hour early just to find a space."

Janicz hopes to see more blue lights installed in the parking lots as well. According to Janicz, she avoids coming to campus later at night because she does not want to walk the long distance to her car by herself.

Austin said that as the university grows, Parking and Transportation services will use the tools and options to most effectively serve the three campuses. Programs to improve the parking and transportation at UB will continue to grow from in the present and beyond the aspirations of UB 2020.

In the mean time, Austin suggests getting to campus well in advance. He also suggested using public transportation to decrease the number of vehicles on campus.




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