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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    PTS sees green future

    More Cat Tran routes, electric cars and safer lock-ups for bikes – in every area, Parking and Transportation Services has spent the year focusing on going green.

    “”To this university as a whole, I think going green is very important. We certainly want to do our part,”” said PTS director David Heineking. “”We think we can have a huge effect on the carbon footprint of the university.””

    Heineking said PTS responds to trends and requests of students and the university, but also tries to be proactive by anticipating as well as encouraging the university community to be more environmentally conscious.

    One way PTS is trying to promote people riding their bikes to campus is with bike lockers, Heineking said. People can be discouraged from biking because of bike thefts, but with bike lockers, their bikes are much safer. Over 120 new lockers were added around campus this year.

    “”A lot of departments requested them once people started seeing them around,”” Heineking said. “”They wanted more security.””

    Heineking said they are also putting in 25 more bike racks over the summer and working on making the bike routes safer for riders.

    Another thing he said they noticed this year was a 30 percent increase in people riding the CatTran and Sun Tran, which has prompted PTS to think about expanding their CatTran routes with routes like the new Ronstadt Transit Center downtown route starting this summer.

    “”We started to notice the increase in August,”” Heineking said. “”Of course, at that time gas prices were high, (but) even when gas prices went back down, people continued to ride the bus.””

    There was also an increase in motorcycle parking permits sold this year, said Bill Davidson, PTS marketing manager. Even though the exact figures are not in yet, he said they believe the number of bicyclists increased on campus this year as well.

    “”We clearly see a shift in people’s behaviors in line with our goals of trying to reduce,”” Davidson said.

    One project Heineking and Davidson said they are excited about for next year is car-sharing, which will start in the fall.

    “”We want to make it really true that students on campus don’t need a car,”” Heineking said.

    He said there will be eight to 10 cars in the program for students and faculty to rent for a couple hours whenever they need to go somewhere off campus. There will be an hourly rate as well as a sign-up fee where members of the program will get a card that allows them to check out the vehicles.

    However, Heineking said they are currently trying to work with the company for a deal where there will be no sign-up fee in the first 90 days or a certain number of rental hours will be free for people who sign up early.

    “”If we can get people into the car that first time, they’ll love it,”” he said.

    Members can reserve the cars for the times they want online and then scan their card to check them out at the allotted time. Anyone under 21 will need to have a clean driving record to the use program.

    PTS is also excited for the construction of the new light rail that will connect from the University Medical Center to downtown Tucson, going right through campus. Construction for the campus part of the light rail will hopefully be happening over the summer, Heineking said.

    All the vehicles PTS uses are “”eco-friendly,”” Davidson said. The CatTrans use bio-diesel fuel, all the golf carts are electric, and they have a mandate that requires every newly purchased vehicle to use alternative fuel.

    PTS isn’t ignoring those students and faculty who need to use cars to get to campus, though. New gating equipment was installed in all seven garages at the beginning of the year, Heineking said.

    He said PTS is also working with Twitter to create updates that will let people know when certain lots or garages are full and recommend other places to park.

    Also, the Second Street Garage is part of the university’s big solar panel installation project. Construction on the garage will begin in May and Heineking said he hopes they will be finished over the summer. A shade cover will be built on top of the garage where the solar panels will be installed. Heineking said they are going to see how the panels work on the Second Street Garage and then consider putting solar panels on more of the garages.

    The 4146 parking lot is also going to be equipped with solar-powered lights this summer, Heineking said.

    “”We hear it’s very dark and we’ve had some requests for lights in that lot,”” he said.

    In using solar-powered lights, there is no need to install wiring to the lot, he said, and it’s more environmentally friendly.

    “”Internally, we’ve been working hard to make sure our own practices are sustainable as well,”” Heineking said, commenting on how the department has gone almost completely paperless.

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