If it's too cold to walk between classes, now you can take the shuttle. It's been a work in progress for many years, but starting this fall the University of Alaska Anchorage is providing students with shuttle rides around campus.
The shuttle service was created to ease parking problems related to the garage construction near the College of Arts and Sciences Building.
“The more cars we can keep off campus the less congested it will be,” said John Kinkade, UAA transportation services manager.
Kinkade says the shuttle service has drawn interest from students with cars, and since the beginning of the year they have transported roughly 2,000 students.
“You haven't seen a true reflection because it's nice out,” Kinkade says
Ann Soper, the director for Transportation and Parking Services, is helping head the project. She says when the first shuttle began running there was a burst of positive feedback throughout the campus. Parking Services then decided to add another shuttle and fixed routes.
“With snow fall, and especially in-between classes, it will be pretty full,” Soper said.
There will be two shuttles, green and gold, running continuously around the campus. The green shuttle is currently in operation. Vans are being used temporarily while Parking Services waits for delivery of the recently purchased gold shuttle.
The shuttles follow two routes. The green shuttle runs from the Commons to Building K; the gold shuttle runs from the Arts Building to the CAS Building. The gold route is for overflow traffic, due to limited space in the CAS parking lot. After construction is completed the routes will be consolidated.
“We've been trying to make the routes go where the students go,” Kinkade says.
The green shuttle was an end of the year purchase, while the gold shuttle was purchased recently. The funding came from the Parking Services balance fund, which is money retained at the end of every year. The shuttles cost about $50,000 each. Parking Services is financially supported by the sales of parking permits.
“We have enough money put aside for major services (in the balance fund),” Soper says.
The shuttle transported 30-50 passengers in the first couple weeks. Before the routes were fixed, the drivers would drop the students where they needed to go, if no one else was on board.
“It's a long overdue service, I'm happy to see it instituted,” said Mike Dingman, president of the student body at UAA.
There were problems obtaining funds for the shuttles, so to compensate for the lack of transportation on campus the Parking Services Committee made an agreement with People Mover. Students with a valid student ID can travel free anywhere around Anchorage on the buses.
“That was the closest we could get,” Soper said.
Routes and times will be adjusted for the spring semester.