Mav Mover Shuttle Ridership Annual 2016‐2019 Running Total
350,000 300,000 250,000 200,000 150,000 100,000 50,000 0
Low priorities and limited financial resources plagued ridership for several years leading up to the 2017–2018 academic year. Traditionally, students paid a small transportation fee to fund the university-operated campus circulator and late-night golf cart security service, but they rarely found value in using the system. As a result, ridership was stagnant and customers couldn’t trust the park-and-ride system enough to opt-in. Parking lots exceeded capacity, leading to an exasperating parking experience. All in all, customers were unimpressed with the existing parking and transit options. All these problems led to additional parking occupancy and demand-management concerns for campus, as the majority of customers brought personal vehicles to campus for use on a daily basis. The parking strategic plan required a comprehensive parking and mobility plan to support remote parking lots and spread customers throughout available lots, but the lack of reliable mobility solutions hindered the campus parking plan. Campus administration also understood the system was not a good use of the students’ fee, which funded about half the cost of the service. The department sought community feedback on the issue by hosting forums, surveys, and partnerships to better understood customers’ needs and desires for a more effective transportation service. A plan was devised to generate new value-added features that would expand service, improve equipment, enhance security, and promote access through an innovative and robust mobility plan. ■
UTA developed a plan to address mobility challenges and revive its mobility system with a focus on an improved customer experience. In addition to making changes on campus, the university began moving students
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throughout the city and region. All this was done without increasing the transportation fee by reallocating financial resources, using enhanced technology, and establishing strategic public-private partnerships.
Reallocating Financial Resources
UTA prides itself on being one of the most affordable four-year institutions in the country. As such, increasing the transportation fee was not an option. Parking and transportation services (PATS) management developed an innovative strategy to free existing revenue and generate new revenue in two ways: cost savings and sponsored stops. The department began exploring a move to outsource the university-operated shuttle bus program as a cost-saving mechanism. The service operated on a fairly lean budget, but upon further research, PATS learned private transportation provided a better value to the university. After a competitive process, Groome Transportation was awarded the contract to operate the new campus circulator. The option provided dedicated on-campus staff to oversee the movement of shuttles while saving UTA approximately $1.8 million during the life of the contract. The department was then able to use a portion of these savings to fund initiatives in other aspects of the revamped mobility plan. Second, PATS generated new revenue through sponsored stops at private, off-campus student apartments. These new stops expanded the campus circulator to off-campus properties centric to student activities. The expanded route for students living off-campus was a win-win solution that provided viable and reliable transit options so students could leave their vehicles parked offsite and still get to class; this reduced parking congestion for others.
From the March 2019 issue of The Parking Professional.