OSU launches shuttles to curb parking woes
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013 06:03
Everyday, that white shuttle bus with “OSU Transit and Parking Services” roves throughout the Oregon State University campus. Most see it as a 20-second roadblock to cross the street.
Unbeknownst to many students, that white bus provides a free service for anyone.
“I don’t know that’s it so much apathy, as it’s just folks don’t know that it’s available,” said Hank Kemper, manager of OSU Transit and Parking Services.
With the city of Corvallis rapidly expanding, and finding parking becoming a greater struggle each year, the OSU shuttle provides value.
The parking on campus is already minimal, and two new buildings — the Student Experience Center, to be completed in 2014, replacing the adjacent parking lot to the OSU bookstore; and a new residence hall (no completion date yet) which will replace a majority of the parking lot in front of Wilson Hall — will make parking availability even smaller.
“As the campus core becomes more built up — more buildings going in that area, parking lots moving toward the outer edge — providing that link between those parking lots and the academic core of campus is going to be important for students and faculty,” Kemper said.
The university is planning to implement a demand-rate zonal parking system, which means the further away one parks from the core of campus, the cheaper the parking pass will be.
“We want to increase the number of students, faculty and staff that are using the parking spaces on campus,” said Steve Clark, vice president for university relations and marketing.
Exact prices will be determined within the next six weeks, Clark said.
The OSU shuttle will be a component to the restructuring of parking on and around campus.
The shuttle service will be working with OSU marketing for a promotional campaign beginning at the end of spring term.
“Our goal to market [the OSU shuttle] is just to make sure people are aware of the service, and make sure they understand where the stops are,” said Melody Oldfield, director of university marketing. “[TAPS] is working on the service side of it, and we just want to get the word out for them.”
OSU shuttles are not limited to students, staff and faculty. Anyone can ride the shuttle for free. The two buses travel on separate routes on campus (each an estimated 15-minute round trip), spanning from 35th Street to 14th Street, from east to west; and Orchard Avenue to Western Boulevard from north to south.
The routes are called “flag routes,” meaning the driver will stop for anyone who flags the bus down along the route. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Knowing any of this information has to happen before the inception of a marketing campaign.
“It is a great resource for everybody, but not everybody knows about it and there could be a whole lot of people taking advantage of the system,” Oldfield said.
The parking situation on campus will become more problematic on Monday.
The Corvallis/OSU Collaboration Project — made up of representatives from the city, county, community, OSU and the Associated Students of Oregon State University — will hear from the collaboration work group on Monday. The work group, with Clark as the chair, will present a proposal to have residential parking districts surrounding campus, except for the west side.
“What we’ve found is parking around campus is filling the neighborhoods,” Clark said. “The density in the neighborhoods has created a real parking problem.”
Many students, faculty and staff opt to not purchase a parking pass and instead find parking off campus. Residents in the parking districts will be able to purchase a permit. Non-residents are limited to once-a-day parking for a maximum of two hours.
It’s seemingly inevitable that many will purchase the discounted parking passes for the lots at Reser Stadium and the parking garage by Gill Coliseum. OSU shuttle is presented with another opportunity.
“Our hope is that by lowering [parking prices] on campus, by the extension of these parking districts and by the work the university is doing with the Corvallis Transit System, it will actually provide greater opportunities for people to get around campus without using a car,” Clark said.
Awareness needs to be raised first, and then the university will begin promotion of the shuttle service. Marketing will begin in spring term, but will beef up in the late summer once students return to campus for fall term.
Promotion will include: Events and outreach in dorms, sororities and fraternities, giveaways to riders of the shuttles, email addresses to students and the use of social media outlets.
“We think these steps will go a long way to making Corvallis an even more lovable community,” Clark said.
Warner Strausbaugh, managing editor