Environmentally conscious students rewarded with closer parking

In a move to ease traffic congestion on campus and promote sustainable transportation, the University of Manitoba’s parking services has introduced parking spaces designated specifically for students who carpool to school.

The program to encourage carpooling began the week of Oct. 8. Twenty-four carpool-exclusive spots are available in the Q and U lots, the two biggest parking lots on the Fort Garry campus. According to a statement released by the university, the parking spots are situated in “prime locations,” with no extra parking fee.

Cameron Neufeld, manager of parking services and transportation demand management at the university, explained that in the beginning phases of the program fair and responsible usage of the 24 spots would be managed on the honour system, with the enforcement of rules picking up gradually.

“It is on the honour system for now, much like the ‘expectant mother’ and ‘accessible parking’ stalls you see at shopping malls. Once the program gains momentum, we will certainly do spot enforcement to ensure people are following the rules.”

Neufeld added, “The goal is to promote carpooling to reduce car emissions and road congestion so the program’s success relies on people doing the right thing.”

The new carpool-only stalls are part of a greater initiative by the university to ease traffic congestion on campus. Parking services is collaborating with the campus planning office and the office of sustainability on developing a Transport Demand Management (TDM) plan, and, according to Neufeld, a new bicycle compound is being built in the parkade to promote active transportation.

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU), which is represented on the U of M’s parking advisory committee, supported the decision to set aside parking spots for students who carpool.

“The conversation came up, and we thought it would be a good idea to encourage carpooling and reward students who were trying to save costs on transportation as well as reduce their carbon emissions footprint,” remarked UMSU president Bilan Arte.

Arte noted that UMSU will be holding a referendum in a few weeks where students can vote whether or not to adopt a universal bus pass for all undergraduates.
Whether or not the student body votes to support the U-PASS, the U of M will continue on with its efforts to promote sustainable transportation.

“When the winter weather sets in, we feel that students who carpool will really enjoy the benefit of parking closer to their destination on campus,” mentioned Neufeld. “I could see us expanding the program early in 2013 and growing it more and more each year.”