Anticipating bus cuts, UW focuses on carpooling programs

Rideshare programs

Rideshare programs -

After the failure of Proposition 1, UW Transportation Services is encouraging students to look into carpooling and rideshare programs.

Photo by Anastasia Stepankowsky

To cope with the proposed changes in the transit services from King County Metro, the UW Transportation Services (UWTS) encourages UW students, staff, and faculty to take advantage of UW carpooling and rideshare programs in Seattle to get to campus.

“Huskies are smart,” said Josh Kavanagh, director of UW Transportation Services (UWTS). “I have every reason to think that they can navigate this change and for many people, they can still take transit. It may be a less convenient connection or a more crowded connection and frankly, I don’t think that approach is good enough.”

After Proposition 1 failed to pass in the April special election, the Metro looks to enact their proposed service cuts in September. As a result, 72 King County Metro bus routes are on the verge of elimination, while 84 other routes are expected to have their services reduced. The proposed reductions in service are expected to adversely impact UW students, staff, and faculty’s daily commutes to campus via transit.

“At UW, we are expecting about 67 percent of our transit riders are going to be affected,” Kavanagh said. “That’s more than 35,000 people on campus that are going to have their routines disrupted one way or another. That is a really significant impact.”

UWTS parking lot specialist Diana Berg said she expects overcrowding to be a major concern when service cuts come about in the fall.

“At times this year, the [parking] lots have filled up quickly on campus,” Berg said. “Especially when weather comes into [question].”

Celeste Gilman, UWTS manager for Commuter Services, said that despite closing the N6 parking lot to build the Native American Intellectual House, the discounts on carpool parking provided for UW students and faculty will be effective in preventing overcrowded parking lots on campus.

“Only 9 percent of students currently drive to campus alone in the parking lots,” Gilman said. “The vast majority of the students carpool, take transit, and use Vanpool. U-PASS members, which essentially all students are, can purchase a parking pass for $3 a day and $2 a day in the E1 lots.”

In addition to carpooling, Kavanagh encourages students to take advantage of discounts UW commuters can use through the U-PASS program. Kavanagh said Vanpool members can save up to $70 a month through discounts provided by the U-PASS program for those who use it three or more times a week. Those who use the program two times or less can save up to $35. 

Gilman also encourages people to use social networking such as Facebook groups exclusive to UW communities and the Zimride page, a UW-exclusive rideshare program. With a UW NetID, students, faculty, and staff can host rides or look for someone hosting rides.

Kavanagh added that the UW has historically responded well to major changes in transit systems around campus. He said when the U-PASS program began 23 years ago, U-PASS users had to readjust the way they used the transportation system.

“What we need to do now is to make rideshare, walking, and biking attractive as we made transit back then,” Kavanagh said. “When we make dozens of those incremental improvements as a part of an intensive effort, that’s when we have the ability to bring substantial change.”


Reach reporter KJ Hiramoto at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @HiramotoJr

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