Monday, April 3, 2017
This academic year, we have gathered several times to celebrate the power of partnership. Creative collaboration has allowed us to construct state-of-the-art academic buildings, modern residence halls, new dining venues, and new athletic facilities. This same kind of collaboration and innovative thinking—which has transformed the physical footprint of our campus—guides us as we transform the ways we move around our university.
With innovation and sustainability at the forefront of our minds, we announced last week that UK Parking and Transportation Services will be renamed UK Transportation Services. The new name better represents the overall efforts and goals of the both the university and the department in facilitating access to the campus through various transportation options and commuting alternatives.
Our Transportation Master Plan (TMP) is aimed at improving access and mobility to, from, and around campus for all members of the UK community. A crucial component of the TMP involves asking ourselves—what services can we provide to enhance our community’s experience on campus? How can we offer the best variety of transportation options to address the needs of different community members? This includes all means of transportation. Parking is just one element of our TMP, and, as such, is only one component of Transportation Services.
This kind of creative thinking has led to the creation of various alternative transportation initiatives throughout the past several years; these efforts will continue for the 2017-18 academic year with a continued focus on increasing choice and predictability for students, employees, and visitors.
For example, the bike voucher program began in 2015.
Participating students and employees sign a car-free commitment that restricts them from purchasing a motor vehicle parking permit for two years, in exchange for a $400 voucher, redeemable at participating local bicycle shops. Vouchers are awarded with the goal of encouraging alternative transportation options. In both 2015 and 2016, the response to the bike voucher program was overwhelmingly positive, and the program reached capacity with UK distributing vouchers to the 100 participants each year. Details for the 2017 edition of the bike voucher program will be announced in the coming weeks.
Transportation Services also introduced a new “cash out” program last week, aimed at encouraging employees to use alternative transportation in exchange for financial incentives. While the bike voucher program is a two-year commitment, the cash out program is a one-year commitment. This gives community members a wider range of options from which to choose, based on their unique needs.
In addition, the department funds the nationally-recognized Wildcat Wheels Bicycle Library, which offers free bicycle use and repair assistance to UK students and employees.
Transportation Services has also played a key role in the Big Blue Cycles program, which is entering its fourth year of providing an option for on-campus student residents to leave their car at home. The bicycles for the program were made possible by a funding partnership between the Office of the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, the Student Sustainability Council, and Transportation Services.
The BluPass program is another example of the power of partnership. A partnership with Lextran, BluPass allows UK students, faculty, and staff to ride any Lextran bus route free of charge simply by showing their valid Wildcard ID. The partnership, which evolved directly from the TMP, has grown tremendously. To date, the campus community has taken more than 1.3 million BluPass rides. Transportation Services has also expanded and improved existing campus shuttle routes, along with implementing bus tracking technology to improve the rider experience. We have also renovated the bus shelter on University Drive, allowing for a safe and weather-protected area to wait for the bus.
Our services around major academic breaks also center upon the goal of serving the campus in the best way possible with the Ride Home Express bus service. The Ride Home Express offers an alternative way for students and employees to travel to their hometowns and other destinations during Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring Break.
Our goal is simple. We want to create the best possible environment for our community—our students, faculty, staff, patients, alumni, visitors, and fans. Transportation plays a critical role in that commitment.
Transportation Services’ website can now be found at www.uky.edu/transportation.
Have a great week.
Eric N. Monday