U seeks more options for public transportation

By By Jaime Winston

By Jaime Winston

Instead of driving to the U from downtown, Charles Emmett uses public transportation because increasing gas prices are burning a hole in his wallet.

“I do have a car, but pretty much only use that to go to the grocery store once a week,” he said. “Hopefully we find some kind of alternative fuel source pretty soon. (Prices are) getting kind of ridiculous, and it’s just going to get worse.”

Emmett, a senior in political science and sociology, is one of many students leaving cars at home and taking TRAX or bicycling to the U.

Luckily, the U already has plans to make campus more pedestrian friendly that will accommodate the rising number of students using public or alternate transportation.

The Campus Master Plan, a guideline for campus development over the next 25 years, includes plans that will make it easier for students to get around campus.

Jake Green, transportation planner for U Commuter Services, wants to work on student transportation problems by creating a bicycle master plan. Green said he plans to incorporate more bicycle lanes on roads around campus and shared pedestrian/bicycle sidewalks for students.

“There are a lot of bikes at the university,” he said. “The bicycle population is very automotive savvy, so I think it’s a bicycle-friendly area.”

Green said the U has plans to add more than just bicycle lanes to the campus.

The Campus Master Plan includes steps to put a shuttle line through the HPER complex and make buildings on campus closer together so students don’t have to walk as far.

Eric Browning, a campus planner and architect, said the plan is more likely to happen if students continue showing an interest in using TRAX or bicycles instead of cars.

“The more students get involved the more likely it will happen,” Browning said.

However, many students who don’t live within the Salt Lake City area still rely on their cars.

Jennifer Colby, a coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, said that students can still work and go to school at the U by making use of public transportation.

“Once you get to campus, try to leave your car in one place,” she said. “If you have a job downtown, leave your car here and take the train back and forth.”

Carrie Bohnsack-Ware, a spokeswoman for UTA, said the number of people riding TRAX has increased 35 percent since last year.

“The U has the most students who use public transportation and with gas prices the way they are, we’re expecting ridership to increase as it has,” Bohnsack-Ware said.

TRAX trains have free Wi-Fi and room for bicycles, Bohnsack-Ware said, making it difficult for people to come up with an excuse not to take public transit.

Kali Korbis, an administrative assistant for Undergraduate Studies, said she’d still ride TRAX even if gas prices weren’t so high.

“I just think it’s easier,” she said. “I get really stressed out in a car, and Foothill during rush hour is not very much fun.”

UTA plans to extend train lines such as FrontRunner to Provo in the next seven years. It will also build TRAX lines to the Valley Fair Mall in West Valley City as well as the Daybreak Community in South Jordan.

[email protected]

Anna Kartashova

To save money on gas Charles Emmett, senior in political science and sociology, takes TRAX trains and buses almost everywhere he goes.

Anna Kartashova

The campus master plan will accommodate students who use public transportation. U students have shown more interest in using TRAX and bikes to get to and around campus instead of their cars.