The Transportation Alternatives Board discussed various ways to promote alternative modes of commute in their continued efforts to reduce the number of single-rider vehicles on campus at yesterday’s two-hour meeting.
TAB, which advises Chancellor Henry T. Yang about programs to enhance the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of campus transportation programs, debated at length how to mend their financial troubles. Although TAB usually collaborates with the Parking Ratepayers Board, which oversees parking finances and operations, the two committees have recently clashed over the annual allocation of $250,000 in funding.
Even though the sum is subject to change, PRB is currently vying for 64 percent of the funding.
Instead of accepting this split, TAB vice chair and environmental studies professor William Freudenberg said the board could garner a higher percentage of the allocated funds if it increases its membership. He said one way to do this is to consider students and faculty members who do not hold parking permits as TAB members, since they actively contribute to alternative modes of transportation.
Committee Chair Kyle Richards said PRB needs to be more supportive of TAB’s long-term financial goals.
“The way [PRB’s proposal] is written makes it sound like the money should all go to the PRB and that we need to justify the money we get from them,” Richards said. “There’s some unfortunate language in here, saying that TAB should try to be more profitable, but we subsidize people! There is hardly any alternative transportation that is immediately profitable.”
Due to the discrepancy between the committees’ recommendations to Yang, TAB is also considering advising him to disband the two competing committees and form one new committee that would oversee all aspects of transportation on campus.
“PRB thinks that this is a compromise, that they voted on giving us some of the money, which, in their minds, is playing nicely,” Richards said. “Otherwise, they might keep all of it. I don’t think that we should vote on something just because they voted on it, if it doesn’t support our goals. We tried to come up with a joint committee with a recommendation that we could all feel good about, but that didn’t happen. … Now this is kind of a stand-off.”
Additionally, the board discussed public transit costs and the implementation of shuttle routes for an upcoming event.
According to Transportation Team Co-chair Jamey Wagner, the cost of maintaining parking structures and surface parking spaces is far more expensive than the maintenance and promotion of alternative modes of transportation, such as public transit or biking. While it costs the school $3,000 per year for every commuter who parks in a surface level parking space — including the cost of the land — Wagner said it only costs them an estimated $200 to finance one person’s public transit commute for a year.
“Anything you can do that costs less than $2,000 a month is great for your campus,” Wagner said. “The bottom line is that parking is expensive. If we can do anything less than expensive parking, there’s value there to potentially be had.”
Robert Defendini, Director of Transportation and Parking Services, said there are two shuttle route proposals currently in place for a demonstration scheduled for May 7. Aside from the two considerations — one route from Parking Lot 38 through main campus and onto east campus, which would be accessible to disabled students, and another from campus to off-campus housing — the board discussed adding a shuttle service from campus to sections of Goleta in order to accommodate faculty and staff members.
“These are all things that we’re conceptualizing, nothing definite,” Defendini said. “This is just one vendor that could provide these resources without my department having to build the resources itself, which would be very expensive not only to build, but also to maintain on an annual basis. If a vendor can provide this, it could provide a valuable service that the population could respond to, that could help change the [transportation] culture here.”