New Commuter Initiatives Arrive on Campus

ROLLING OUT: A Hillcrest Shuttle featuring UCSD Health System advertisements leaves campus.  The advertising program is part of a campaign rolling out this quarter to reduce UCSD Transportationand Parking Services' department costs.  Ad revenue will put four new buses in service
ROLLING OUT: A Hillcrest Shuttle featuring UCSD Health System advertisements leaves campus. The advertising program is part of a campaign rolling out this quarter to reduce UCSD Transportationand Parking Services’ department costs. Ad revenue will put four new buses in service. Photo by Brian Monroe/Guardian

UCSD Transportation and Parking Services is implementing various changes, including a bus advertising program and new parking technology, to help reduce department costs and improve overall reliability.

The auxiliary department has seen its revenues decrease in previous years, an issue that is worsened by the increasing costs of maintaining the various transit and shuttle services around UCSD. According to TPS, this has led the department to explore new ways of increasing funding while lowering its expenses. One such idea was putting advertisement wraps on campus buses. Many are already making their rounds with UCSD Health System displays.

Robert Holden, director of Auxiliary Business Services, is in charge of managing the transportation department.

“We have been reaching out to everyone — students, faculty, staff, patients, visitors, bike riders, bus riders and more,” Holden said in a Jan. 23 UCSD News Center press release. “We want to ensure that the needs of all members of the campus community are met.”

According to the press release, revenue from the advertisements is paying for one of four new buses that began operating last quarter. They are expected to offer universal, cost-efficient services for the student body until the Light Rail Transit system is implemented on campus in 2018.

Holden also laid out future plans to use parking space availability displays and license plate recognition technology at UCSD beginning in Fall Quarter 2014.
First, sensors will be placed in each parking spot at the Gilman Parking Structure.

The information will relay to electronic signs outside the building, which will display the availability of parking spaces inside.

Furthermore, license plate recognition will be tested as a possible replacement for printed parking permits as well. According to the press release, Transportation Services staff will be equipped with various sensors that allow them to scan license plates instead of checking for permits.

Up to five license plates can be associated with a single student, useful for those who use multiple cars when necessary. Once testing is complete, the program is expected to save as much as $60,000 annually in printing costs.

“In both cases, Transportation Services will be leveraging technology to operate in a more cost-effective manner as well as improving traffic management systems and operational efficiency,” Holden said in an email to the Guardian.

Other changes include the introduction of redesigned Occasional Use Permits that allow students to scratch off only the days they park on campus and the increased support of ADA Transport, which provides rides for disabled students, and Alternative Transport Programs, which gives subsidies to Zimride, vanpools and other services.

“We are working extremely hard to find new ways to reduce our costs, increase efficiency and improve our services,” Holden said. “Through outreach to the campus community over the last year, we’ve received some great feedback from our customers, such as the bus advertising idea. We continue to explore every avenue to find the best possible path to financial viability.”

While Transportation Services makes these improvements, A.S. Council will also be holding a campuswide referendum during Week 8, which would add a $52 quarterly student fee to cover transportation costs if it passed.

Seventy-one percent of the fee would go directly to Transportation Services and a Student Transportation Advisory Committee, while the rest would help cover financial aid.