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Campus News
     
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: September 8, 2003
Volume 39, Number 4

UNM community encouraged to use alternative transportation
University could become 'intermodal transportation hub'

By Dan Ware

When Big I construction began three years ago, the City of Albuquerque partnered with UNM and many other businesses and organizations to promote alternative modes of transportation to employees.

The Big I is finished, but the problem of air pollution caused by traffic congestion remains.

The City’s Alternative Commute Transportation (ACT) Now program encourages UNM faculty, staff and students to explore alternative transportation to and from campus. This includes walking, riding bicycles, car-pooling and riding the bus. ACT Now officials say riding the bus is a great way to clean the air and save money.

UNM staff and faculty who purchase a monthly bus pass will receive an $8 discount off the regular $28 price. All UNM students pay $12 for a monthly pass. Passes can be purchased at the UNM Bookstore.

Seeking better transportation methods is important to students, too, according to civil engineering graduate student Kamesh Tangirala, who works as a project assistant in the UNM Transportation Information Office.

“I believe the city’s ACT Now program is beneficial to the faculty, staff and students at UNM,” Tangirala said. “Alternate modes of transportation would mean reduced traffic congestion, delays and pollution, a reduction of stress and a significant reduction in the costs incurred such as parking and gas. Also, alternative modes like cycling and walking improves health.”

Transportation Information Office Project Facilitator Sabra Basler says UNM could become an intermodal transportation hub, linking city bus lines with the campus shuttle and even a light-rail system that has been proposed by the city.

“We’re very interested in studying the possibility of an intermodal center on campus to promote commuting choices,” Basler said. “Not just for the air shed, but to reduce the need for vanishing proximate parking.”

While use of mass transit blossomed during the Big I project, use dropped sharply once the exchange was completed, according to Valerie Santillanes with the City’s ACT Now program.

“A lot of people just don’t know what’s available to them,” Santillanes said. “UNM students, faculty and staff can catch a bus at the university every 10 minutes on Central from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday.”

Santillanes adds that it’s not just about riding the bus. ACT Now encourages residents to walk and ride bicycles when they can. The city has set up a new program to focus on cycling to work.

The ACT Now Bike Mentor program has teamed up with local, non-profit Bike Albuquerque to encourage casual bicycle riders to use them more often.

Program participants will be provided with a bike route from home to the office specifically designed for them. Program staff can ride with participants until they are comfortable riding the route themselves. Bike Albuquerque will even loan participants a bicycle and helmet so they can decide if the program is right for them.

In an effort to further encourage Albuquerque residents to leave cars home at least three days a week, the city has created the Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) program, which provides free rides home up to five times a year for those who register.

The GRH program was created to alleviate the apprehension some people may have that if they carpool or use another form of alternative transportation, they’ll be stranded at the office or school in case they have to work late or an emergency happens.

“People are willing and capable of making changes if you give them a good reason,” Santillanes said. “We want to convince people that clean air is reason enough to use alternative transportation.”

For more information about the city’s ACT Now program, call (505) 243-RIDE or log onto www.cabq.gov/transit.