The University Record, September 16, 1998
By Rebecca A. Doyle
Two of the University's most visible units merged over the summer, enabling them to work more closely to coordinate how people get to campus, travel from one class to the next, and get to meetings and events once they are here.
Parking and Transportation Services became one unit "to better integrate the planning for and application of resources that can assist members of the University community in accessing their place of work and study," noted James E. Christenson, director of Plant Operations in announcing the merger.
"Providing convenient access to all University facilities has become an increasingly elusive goal as existing parking spaces have been replaced with buildings, and as those buildings have become filled with new and relocated people who wish to park," he continued.
The move to combine the two units follows a look at parking and transportation solutions on campus. Susan Kirkpatrick, formerly manager of Parking Services, is director of Plant Operations planning. Patrick Cunningham, who was manager of Transportation Services, is now director of Parking and Transportation Services.
Cunningham, who will oversee the parking operation and mass transportation on the Ann Arbor campus, says the merger makes sense, since the two departments were so closely related in function. He will focus on increasing and expanding current programs that make it easier to get to work or class.
"We want to better supplement the parking program with transportation options," he says. "In my opinion, we have a shortage of parking spaces on Central Campus of more than 1,000 spaces." In order to free some of those spaces and reduce the 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. gridlock, he would like to see more faculty, staff and students use the transportation programs. Approximately 15,000 people regularly use the University's transportation options, he estimates, somewhere between 23 and 25 percent of the University community.
Some of those current programs include free passes for U-M employees to ride any AATA bus to work, and park-and-ride commuter lots that shuttle students, faculty and staff to their destinations.
Cunningham says he has spent the last month organizing the newly merged department so there is more communication, teamwork and reporting across the lines of the former individual departments. He oversees more than 100 full-time staff members.
Kirkpatrick notes that the idea behind the merger and her new position is to separate planning for the future needs of the campus and city from the day-to-day operations, now Cunningham's responsibility.
"I can focus my time on the integration of the University's needs and resources with those of the Ann Arbor community," she says. Kirkpatrick works with Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority and the city on parking issues to plan how to improve services and share resources.
"Sharing our resources is of increasing importance," she notes. "We need to be successful together." She points to the State Street Park 'N' Ride lot as an example of truly shared resources. The University owns the property, but it was developed by and is serviced by AATA, and is open to the entire community for use.
"We need to continue to figure out those kinds of solutions," she says. "Space will increasingly be at a premium and construction and maintenance of parking facilities is expensive."
The addition of the new Social Work Building at the corner of South University and East University avenues makes that part of Central Campus "one of the tightest areas on campus," she notes. Discussions with the city about a shared parking facility in that area are in the works.
Kirkpatrick notes that there are many options for parking that have been developed within the past five years that not everyone is aware of. These include a scratch-off pad of daily parking passes for those who may want to use carpool or vanpool options, but might occasionally need to drive their own car to work.
"Lots of options have been made available in the past few years, and we are working to keep our planning consistent with the overall planning of Venturi, Scott Brown," Kirkpatrick says.
Services that make it easy to get to work
AATA Park 'N' Ride
The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Park 'N' Ride program provides free rides Monday-Friday, daytime only, with presentation of a valid U-M ID. Schedules are available from AATA and Parking and Transportation Services. Pickups are made at:
Pioneer High School, Stadium at Main, Routes 7 and 2 or 14; Maple Village Shopping Center, Maple between Jackson and Dexter, Route 12U; U-M Lot NC37, Green near Baxter, Route 2; U-M Lot SC34, South State, across from car dealership, Route 36.
Central Campus on State near Michigan Union (Route 36).
North University near C.C. Little Building (Route 36).
Fletcher at Washington near School of Dentistry (Route 2).
University Hospital (Route 12U, Route 2, Route 7-stay on bus at transit station, turns into Route 2).
Mott Hospital (Route 14).
AATA bus passes
The AATA Bus Pass program offers free rides from any AATA bus stop in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti to campus and is for work-related use only. A required special pass may be obtained at the Parking and Transportation Services Office in the Thompson Street Structure. The pass and current U-M ID must be presented to the driver when boarding. Bus pass holders also may obtain annual Yellow, Orange or Green parking permits or up to 24 free daily Yellow Scratch-Off permits for the times they wish to drive to work.
Daily Scratch-Off Permits
Scratch-Off permitsfor those who might ordinarily car pool or use bus transportation-allow one-day parking and come in two versions:
Yellow: 10 for $15 ($2 each), parking allowed in Yellow, Orange or Green areas.
Blue: 10 for $25 ($3 each), parking allowed in Blue, Yellow, Orange or Green areas.
To use them, drivers simply scratch off the month and day. These permits may be ordered by phone and mailed to your home address.
New parking location
A new Green parking area opened Sept. 14 at Keech and Main. Catch the Commuter Bus at the Administrative Services Building.