In early September, Washington University in St. Louis announced it will implement a new parking and transportation management strategy following May 2017 Commencement.
The new plan — which will address key weaknesses in the current program, enhance alternative transportation options and improve resource utilization to better serve the campus community — has been in development over the past year.
“We have spent many months evaluating our current strategy, gathering data, and speaking with peer institutions about best practices,” said Tara Bone, assistant vice chancellor for operations. “We have learned a lot. For example, we know a few of our parking lots are underutilized, while others are monopolized by those who don’t need daily access to their vehicles. Many of our current parking permit holders also have to ‘hunt’ for parking, which slows down the flow of traffic in general, particularly on the Danforth Campus.”
In developing the new parking and transportation management strategy, the team identified seven principles to serve as guideposts. These include prioritizing existing resources; increasing utilization of existing resources by aligning usage with demand; reducing time spent hunting for spaces; meeting visitor parking demand; building infrastructure for data-driven demand management and decision-making; primarily enforcing policies only during peak business hours; and capitalizing on the east end construction to put a long-term, viable plan in place.
By meeting these objectives, the new parking and transportation management strategy is expected to better reflect how students, staff and faculty work and live on campus, ensuring that parking is available in the right places and at the right times.
The new changes, which are slated to begin during the east end construction project, will remain in place after construction is complete. Specific parking-permit policy changes include:
- Current parking permits will be shifted to a zoned approach, which will include: the East End Garage; the South Danforth Core; the North Danforth Core; the South 40; and remote parking on the West and North campuses.
- Starting in fall 2017, sophomore students will no longer be able to have cars on campus. As with first-year undergraduates, exceptions will be granted for those with specific needs on a case-by-case basis.
- Undergrads, excluding first-year and sophomore students, who live in university-owned housing managed by Residential Life or Quadrangle Housing will be able to purchase a permit for the South 40. Those who don’t live in university-owned housing will be able to purchase a permit in the North Campus and West Campus remote lots, if they choose.
- Undergraduate commuter students who don’t live in university-owned housing managed by Residential Life or Quadrangle Housing will be able to park in the North or West Campus remote lots.
- Graduate students will have access to zones in the South Danforth Core and North Danforth Core, and they also will be able to park at the West and North Campus remote lots.
- Faculty and staff who choose to purchase a permit may purchase one in a particular zone, both during and after construction. They also will have the option to choose a lower-priced permit in a remote lot. In addition, the Official Business Permit will remain available to departments for purchase.
- Spaces on the east end primarily will be limited to staff, faculty and visitors from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. A majority of these spaces will not be monitored after 5 p.m., allowing those who need to work or study on the Danforth Campus during evening hours, or on the weekend, to do so.
- All facilities-related project construction parking is planned to move to the North Campus.
- Visitor parking will be shifted to four locations: the Danforth University Center garage, Snow Way, Millbrook and the new garage that will be built on the east end of the Danforth Campus.
“We are aware that the new policies will be a shift for the entire campus community,” said Nick Stoff, director of Parking & Transportation Services. “We have been actively meeting with students, faculty and staff to discuss the pending changes, gather feedback and listen to concerns, and will do our best to limit the impact of these changes while allocating parking in a way that makes the most sense for all.”
For example, the team acknowledges there are areas of concern the group will need to continue to address, such as ensuring accessible parking or ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) parking remains a priority, as well as exploring short-term parking for those who need to drop off heavy equipment or materials.
In addition, enhancing the university’s alternative transportation options — which today include the Metro bus and light-rail system, the Campus Circulator, Campus2Home shuttle as well as the Occasional Parking Program, Bearly Drivers Carpool Group (for faculty and staff), Guaranteed Ride Home and Enterprise CarShare, among others — is also a priority.
As part of this effort, a new shuttle service that will run every 15 minutes on weekdays from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. will be added from West Campus to the central core of the Danforth Campus. The team also is exploring how to coordinate the shuttle schedule with the schedules of the MetroBus, which arrives every 20 minutes, and MetroLink, which arrives every 12 minutes, during peak hours.
“The Metro, which offers stops on and around campus, is a great option for the campus community,” Stoff said. “For example, you can take the MetroLink from the Big Bend or Skinker station on the Danforth Campus to the Medical Campus in about half the time it takes to drive there.”
For those interested in learning more about the alternative transportation resources, the team has a designated alternative transportation coordinator, Becca Gilberg, who can answer questions, provide options and offer a customized one-on-one consultation.
“Our primary objective is to ensure the new strategy is sustainable over the long-term — meaning, we don’t have to make additional changes in a few years — viable, both now and in the future, and most importantly, as fair as possible,” said Dedric Carter, vice chancellor for operations and technology transfer. “We are excited about the future of our university. The changes to our parking and transportation management strategy will better reflect the needs of our community over the long haul.”
Additional details of the plan continue to be explored and will be announced in early 2017. To learn more about the new parking and transportation management plan and the resources available, visit the Parking & Transportation website and read the new parking plan FAQ.
To learn more about alternative transportation options, email firstname.lastname@example.org.