posted on Jan. 10: Transportation strategy encourages greater use of public transit


A Balanced Transportation Strategy for the McMaster campus
was approved by the Board of Governors on Dec. 15, but the
strategy generated some discussion among members prior to
the vote.

The strategy was developed by members of an ad hoc
committee created by the Board to examine ways to encourage
faculty, staff and students at McMaster to reduce vehicle traffic to
campus in conjunction with consultants hired by the University to
conduct a parking needs assessment and develop new campus
parking strategies.

The Board's Planning & Building Committee recommended the
of the strategy comprising the following components:

* parking supply expansions limited to at-grade only (no

* participate with the Hamilton Street Railway to subsidize faculty
and staff transit passes;

* assess parking permit rates to make transit more attractive for
faculty, staff and students
(changes should be implemented before 2003); and

* implement additional travel demand management

Board member Rick Butler, professor of pathology and
molecular medicine, commented that he felt such a policy was,
in effect, a free licence to increase parking rates.

Vice-president administration Karen Belaire responded that
under the current parking rate structure it is better for people to
drive to campus than to use public transit. “There is no incentive
for people to use public transit.” Belaire said the University has
not been very aggressive about initiatives such as carpooling
and bicycling.

The committee was also interested in encouraging staff and
faculty to use public transportation, and would like to make
incentives, such as bus passes, available to them, she said.
Belaire said University parking rates are presently lower than the
hospital and need to be reassessed.

The committee dismissed the idea of building a parking garage
on campus because the cost was huge and would require a
significant increase in parking rates, said Belaire. “We didn't
feel we could implement those rates over time.” Even with
increases, the University will not be covering all of its costs.

Parking rates are set by the President's Users' Traffic and
Parking Committee and senior management.