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September 16, 2002

Parking lot closure prompts changes; bus service expanded

By Louise Donahue

As the new school year begins, drivers may need to allot some extra time for finding a parking space, but bus riders will benefit from more frequent service.

The Core West Parking Structure is getting more use now that the parking lot behind Basking Engineering has closed. Photo: Louise Donahue

The large parking lot behind Baskin Engineering has been closed to make way for the new Engineering Building.

In order to accommodate faculty and staff parking, students are no longer allowed to park on the top floor of the parking structure. Also, the North Perimeter Lot is now limited to those with A, B, or RV permits.

The parking structure includes 19 pay-station spaces for guests and short-term parking.

Payment, with cash or credit card, must be made at the pay station on the second level. Those with "A" permits also must pay.

Those who skip driving and take the bus will spend less time waiting, with just nine minutes—instead of last year's 12-minute gap--between shuttle buses, said Wes Scott, director of Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS).

"This is due in no small part to the students passing the transit increase," Scott said of last year's referendum to increase the Student Transit Fee to $69 per quarter. "For the past few years, I've been decreasing services. Now, with the passage of the transit fee, we'll be able to grow our services." Scott noted that Santa Cruz Metro bus service will not be decreased on campus, despite a Transit District financial crunch.

'Owl' bus service

A major expansion in transit options is the addition of late-night "Owl Service" to campus starting September 20. TAPS has contracted with Santa Cruz Metro to operate a special route from midnight to 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and until 2 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday nights. Bus service ended at 12:15 a.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends previously.

On Friday and Saturday nights buses will operate the Laurel Street and Lower Bay routes until 3 a.m., with a dial-a-ride option. On Sunday through Thursday nights, buses will operate on the Laurel Street route until 2 a.m., also with a dial-a-ride option. Dial-a-ride allows callers in certain areas to schedule a late-night bus pickup at the nearest bus stop.

For more information on the late-night service, call (831) 425-8600. TAPS is also asking riders to email comments on the service.

Parking master plan

The cost of parking has increased by 5 percent. "It's not popular, but it will help us ramp up for some of the construction projects we're facing," Scott said.

"We are currently working with the campus architect's office and an outside consultant to draft a parking master plan for the campus. This plan is still being compiled but intuitively we anticipate the construction of additional remote parking, which may include expanding the East Remote parking lot as well as additional parking within the campus core. We expect the results of this study within the month. "

The TAPS sales office will close at 3 p.m. through Friday, September 20. Regular sales office hours of 7 a.m to 5 p.m. will resume on Monday, September 23.

New traffic signals

Two new traffic lights are also planned, for Coolidge Drive near the Physical Plant Barn G and at the intersection of Hagar and Coolidge. Accidents have occurred at both locations. Construction is expected to begin this fall on the signal near Barn G, and next summer at Hagar and Coolidge.

Coolidge is a county road until it becomes McLaughlin Drive. The lights are funded through federal safety grants administered by Caltrans.

More vanpools forming

Vanpool programs, in which UCSC provides both the vehicles and their maintenance, are being expanded beyond the 12 now running. A swing-shift vanpool is now forming in Watsonville, and a daytime vanpool in Scotts Valley is also looking for riders. Several other vanpools have openings.

"That is the cheapest way, short of transit, for getting here," Scott noted. Watsonville is the most popular vanpool destination, with six vanpools. Vanpool drivers ride for free in exchange for driving and handling some administrative details. Other riders pay $222 to $294 a year to participate, and receive 50 scratch-off parking permits per year for days they must use their own vehicles. Taxi service home is available to vanpool riders in case of emergency.

Efforts to expand the vanpool program to include additional routes from Watsonville and Monterey County will begin later this year. Those interested in joining a vanpool or finding out more about the program may email TAPS or call 459-2607.

Bicycle trailer

Bicyclists wanting help getting up Bay Street may take advantage of the free bike trailers running every 15 minutes on weekdays, from 7 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. The bike trailer has a new pickup location this year, Olive Street next to the Mission Street Longs Drug Store. Dropoff locations include the Physical Plant Metro stop and College Nine.

Additional information on the progress of campus construction projects and their impacts is available online.

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