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April 8, 2009
By Jane Tors
The University Parking and Traffic Board approved a proposal Thursday that will keep annual parking permit fees unchanged for at least one year. A core component of the proposal is a recommendation to discontinue University funding of the Regional Transportation Commission’s (RTC) Sierra Spirit bus service which operates from the downtown area to campus.
The Parking and Transportation Services Department proposal calls for the continuation of the subsidy to the Wolf Pass, which provides unlimited rides on the city buses for students, faculty, and staff at a significantly reduced rate. The department will also continue to subsidize the cadet safety program, which provides increased security of parking facilities and an on-campus walking escort service during evening hours.
The University’s funding portion of the free Sierra Spirit bus service has come from the sale of parking permits, which has declined by 500 permits compared to last year, resulting in a revenue shortfall.
Coinciding with the decline in permits is a record number of students who have applied for a free campus bicycle permit. Parking and Transportation Services requires bicycles parked on campus to have a permit and therefore to have an established information record. The number of campus bicycle permits has increased by 160 from last year to a total of 613 bikes. Additional bicycle racks have been recently added, and both racks and storage lockers will be added on campus if warranted by demand.
For budget reasons, since fall 2009 the RTC has been forced to decrease the Sierra Spirit bus service by cutting hours from 9 p.m. to 7 p.m., by decreasing the route and by taking one bus out of service. On average, 356 people currently board the Sierra Spirit bus on or near campus daily. Many are campus members who use the service to get from one end of campus to the other, and these individuals are encouraged to use the campus shuttle service instead.
Parking permits for the Circus-Circus garage will continue to be provided for free. If RTC determines that it is necessary to further cut or discontinue the Sierra Spirit bus service, then those who park at the Circus-Circus will need to walk to campus. However, during evening hours, faculty, staff and students may use the Campus Escort Service to get to their vehicles.
Since the sluggish economy has created a hardship for some individuals, the Parking and Transportation Services Department will sell a limited number of “hardship” parking passes for the north end of campus for $8 per month. Those who park at the north end of campus may ride a shuttle to lower campus.
For parking and transportation related information, please call 784-4654.