A consulting firm, hired to evaluate the University of Wisconsin’s public transportation services, released their final report last Thursday, providing the first steps for university’s transportation improvement initiative.
Darwin Ward, UW Transportation Services commuter solutions manager, said the study, performed by Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, outlined strategies for the development of accessible services and the campus bus system at the university, including new paratransit options and campus circulators with shorter routes, in an email to The Badger Herald.
Ward said no policy decisions have been made regarding which strategies will be pursued at this time.
Meg Healy, an Associated Students of Madison Student Transportation Board member, said Nelson\Nygaard discussed general conclusions and preliminary findings from a survey they completed in a meeting Tuesday.
The consulting group presented its initial findings dealing with concerns about making the best use of the 80 bus routes and having the most effective paratransit services for handicapped passengers, according to Herschel Kissinger, a former STB member.
“Nelson\Nygaard was very interested in paratransit options and they talked about it a lot more than we ever did in our committee meetings,” Kissinger said.
According to the report, UW’s disability accessible services has been seeing low usage overall given the size and structure of the campus. Such low usage implies either a lack of promotion, or inadequacy of service, the report said.
The report also provided suggestions for the fixed-route alignments, such as the 80 route service which currently connects east and west campus. According to the report, shorter distance circulators.
However, following the report, Kissinger said he does not expect to see any immediate changes. He said based on his time on the committee, most of how the bus routes are determined fiscally is based on previous years.
How people on campus use the busses this year will affect how much the busses will cost in the next two or three years, Kissinger said, adding he does not expect to see any major changes this school year.
As for next year, Kissinger said the redistribution of routes and changes to paratransit options could be addressed.
Healy said although the consulting firm recently released its final report, campus transportation is an ongoing process and is more complicated than just a survey.
She said the committee has primarily focused on the potential increase in student funding for campus busses over the past two semesters.
Healy said the committee cannot make changes to campus bus routes, but added they can control how much money students contribute to student bus systems through segregated fees.
She said ASM is primarily focused on the potential increase in student funding for campus busses as they are weary of having students face an increase in segregated fees for busses.
“I think it’s always important to revisit an existing system to see if there are any updates that can be made,” Healy said. “Especially as the campus is expanding and more and more students are added.”
According to Healy, it is important for students to be involved in the findings of this study because students pay for transportation and the campus bus system, adding the committee is interested in hearing suggestions from Nelson\Nygaard and from campus community members in order to make campus transportation a more efficient system.