In continuation of the Shared Governance Week of Action, University of Wisconsin’s student government hosted a Transportation Forum, in effort to both educate the community as well as gain feedback for the future of campus transportation.
Associated Students of Madison Student Transportation Board welcomed Bethany Whitaker, representative from the transportation planning firm Nelson Nygaard to present data from a survey conducted last spring as well as field any questions and concerns.
According to Whitaker, the firm conducted a survey with approximately 500 participants in spring of 2012 in an effort to collect data for future bus route changes and programs.
Whitaker said the firm is in the process of applying the data to possible transportation solutions in order to better serve the great numbers of people who come in and out of campus.
The forum, which addressed a myriad of transportation issues such as accessibility for disabled passengers and student safety, focused on campus bus availability and efficiency.
According to ASM Vice Chair Maria Giannapolous, who said she has spoken with many in the student body regarding transportation, students have voiced the most concern for Metro Madison’s 80 line service.
Giannapolous cited her own experiences with the 80 line’s inefficiency and said it took the same time to walk from Dejope Hall as it would to wait for the bus.
Whitaker proposed several ideas to address Giannapolous’ observations, including to an inner campus circulator bus line, which would provide access to a limited area during the day and do so with 15-minute circulation times.
However, according to Whittaker, although there would be some overlap with the campus bus, this idea would better serve those with disabilities, especially in terms of getting between classes. The measure is still in early stages of planning.
“The idea is that it would serve that small portion well,” Whitaker said.
In addition, Whitaker also presented the idea of a split 80 line, which would have have two circulations. One would circulate in the downtown housing region and a second would transport riders toward the hospital and eagle heights.
ASM Shared Governance Chair Sam Seering agreed with the split 80 proposal and found it to be an adequate solution to the current inefficiency of the line.
“The split seemed like such a rather innovative idea to me because I never truly understood why our circulator service goes so far out during the day when it is mostly meant to be serving the central part of campus,” Seering said.
The forum also addressed student safety as several attendees expressed the need for safer night transportation resources.
According to STB member Herschel Kissinger, students place more priority on bus accessibility at night rather than efficiency.
“It is not as time sensitive,” Kissinger said. “I feel safer, if I am waiting at College Library, than the 10 minute walk that I have to take from the bus stop to my house.”
Whitaker said she found the feedback particularly helpful as she said the firm has a “tendency to be time efficient.”
According to Whitaker, the firm will continue to hold similar forums in order to gain a better sense of student needs.