New Dorms, Light Rail Result in Shuttle Route Changes

As roads close and parking becomes scarce, the U shuttle service is stepping up to the plate.

The shuttles, which transport about 35,000 people a week, will increase service and re-route to accommodate the Olympics.

Residence Halls

Much of the demand comes from residents of Heritage Commons, said Ken Searles, campus transit manager. Only about 19,000 people a week used the shuttles when the old dorms provided housing. However, Searles thinks the ridership will be greater than 19,000 because of the demand on parking due to Olympic preparations.

“I usually walk or take the shuttle now, it’s such a pain to drive to campus,” said Mindy Arthur, a resident at Heritage Commons. “I’ll probably be taking the shuttle after the move, too.”

After Fall Semester ends, parking services will see some major changes.

“Dec. 15 is a big day for us because students move into the old dorms and TRAX comes to the U,” said Jake Green, supervisor of campus transit.

After Dec. 15, when students move out of Fort Douglas, shuttle service to the Heritage Center will stop. The red and blue shuttles will be re-routed to join the black route servicing Van Cott Hall.

The campus shuttle schedules will match the TRAX schedules. TRAX and shuttle service will begin at 6 a.m. and continue until 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and will run from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday.

“With shuttles, buses and TRAX, I’ll probably use all of them,” said Miy Engh, a dorm resident.

Others will use a different tactic.

“During the Olympic break, I hope to have a job, so I hope to avoid the campus altogether,” said student Michael Tabet.

South Campus Drive

With the closing of South Campus Drive between the Field House and Rice-Eccles Stadium, shuttle routes will change dramatically, according to Green.

“There will be a big detour around the [stadium area], and a lot of other changes,” he said.

The detour, starting Nov. 12, will affect blue, red, purple and yellow routes. They will circle around the stadium via 500 South and Guardsman Way. The shuttles will go to the Graduate School of Social Work, and then make a u-turn.

The frequency of these shuttles will stay the same for the most part, Green said.

The business loop area will not have any shuttle service, and students will be directed to South Campus Drive stops, according to Norm Chambers, director of auxiliary services.

The business lot will be turned into a one-way, west bound parking lot with 148 parking spaces for commuters with U passes.

East and West Villages

Green routes will increase trips to the East and West Villages. Those routes will change significantly, Green said.

The green shuttles will go up Foothill and then use Wakara Way to get into the East Village.

Shuttles will not enter the West Village. Instead, they will go straight down Sunnyside Avenue with stops along the avenue.

“There are a few reasons for this change: First, there are safety concerns because there are a lot of kids playing in the West Village, buses are noisy, it takes a lot of time to go through there, and the speed bumps tear up our buses,” Green said.

Health Sciences

Access to the University Health Sciences Center will always be available, Green said.

“The shuttle routes will be the exact same until the Olympics start,” said Searles. “When the Olympics start, shuttles leaving the hospital will have to use Wasatch Drive. Most stops will remain the same, but there won’t be any stops on the south end of the hospital, the dorms, or the parking right above the two.”

Purple and yellow shuttles will only run from the hospital to Research Park during the Olympics.

Golf Course

Parking services will make about 370 parking places available along Wasatch Drive next to the golf course. The parking will be open to A, U and E passes.

A new shuttle route will go from the Union to the golf course to pick up commuters.

“We want to make it as safe as possible,” Chambers said.

Olympic Costs

As parking becomes more scarce, shuttles will host advertising on their sides with the basic message of “don’t drive; [but] walk, bike, find another way to campus,” Green said.

Parking services will be paying for the advertising, Searles said.

The funding for the shuttle service comes from revenue from visitor parking, the transportation fee and parking permits, said Stephen Olchek, administrative manager for parking services.

“The gross cost of the shuttle service is a tad shy of $2 million, which covers money to purchase new shuttles, maintenance, fuel, miscellaneous supplies and operator wages,” Olchek said.

However, during the Olympic break, parking services will monitor the expenses of running the shuttles, and then bill the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for any costs that are over normal operation costs.