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October 31, 2005

Plan to link campus with light rail on track

Proposed  bus rapid transit
FREE RIDE—Plans are underway to provide more convenient campus access for faculty, staff and students who ride Light Rail. A proposed bus rapid transit, or BRT, like the one pictured above would transport visitors to and from the 65th St. Light Rail station on a loop with a number of stops on campus.

The campus community is open to getting on campus without a car, according to preliminary results of a transportation survey—and campus efforts to provide a key solution are on track.

Of the more than 2,500 faculty, staff and students who responded to a University Enterprises survey in the spring, 53 percent said they would ride light rail to or from campus if there was a convenient street car option between the station and campus, says Matt Altier, vice president for capital planning and resource development and executive director of University Enterprises. To meet that need, plans are underway to develop a transportation system to link the 65th Street light rail station with the University with various stops on the campus interior.

The new system would be a bus rapid transit, or BRT, similar to one used at the University of Oregon. The BRT looks much like a light rail car but doesn’t require the rail system, making it about half as expensive to construct. The BRT has rubberized wheels and usually runs on a designated concrete or asphalt travel way but can also run on a regular roadway.

Initial plans call for the BRT loop to go from the Light Rail station, along 65th St., through the Hornet Crossing tunnel, and continue along State University Drive. The campus loop would circle the campus interior to serve all major destinations, such as the residence halls, Hornet Bookstore, the University Union, the Library, Hornet Stadium, the Alumni Center and the future Recreation, Wellness and Events Center. Eventually, it will also make a stop at the faculty-staff village as part of the City of Sacramento’s plan to extend Ramona Avenue.

Each BRT can hold as many as 40 passengers and Altier says he anticipates having three to four BRTs in service at a time so that it will run every five to seven minutes. Of those survey respondents who said they would consider using the proposed street car system, 91 percent indicated that frequency/availability would be a major factor and 70 said time savings would be a major factor.

More than half the survey respondents indicated they are considering a switch to another method of transportation: 28 percent are considering the bus and 35 percent are considering Light Rail. Lisa Hall, director of planning and resource development for University Enterprises, says those numbers would likely be much higher today because the survey was taken in the spring before the completion of Light Rail service to Folsom and before the most recent spikes in gasoline prices.

Other preliminary findings from the campus transportation survey included:

  • 68 percent of responses came from students.
  • Only 10 percent of respondents currently ride Light Rail and of those 90 percent use the 65th St. station.
  • Fewer than 20 percent of respondents said they leave campus during the day for lunch or errands.
  • 58 percent of survey respondents drive to campus alone every time. Of those who drive 72 percent say they do because it is convenient. Only 33 percent said it is the only type of transportation available to them.
  • Of those who don’t drive to campus, 55 percent say it is because parking is too hard to find and 48 percent say the cost of parking is too high.

University Enterprises is pursuing the potential for a SACOG (Sacramento Area Council of Governments) grant for design and engineering funding for the project. Altier says they also plan to look at federal and state program funding opportunities. If the funding is made available and project planning continues on target, the new system could be up and running in two to three years.

Currently, students can ride Regional Transit light rail and buses for free by showing their One Card. Faculty and staff can buy passes for $10 per six-month period (January-June and July-December.)

For more information, contact University Enterprises at 278-7001. For information on commute choices and RT passes, visit the University Transportation and Parking Services website at www.csus.edu/utaps.

Laurie Hall


 



 

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