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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Riding along with Parking and Transportation Services

    The Summer Wildcat recently spent the day with the UA Parking and Transportation Services to give readers an up-close-and-personal view of the employees that make the entire operation possible.

    We were supposed to meet Glenn Grafton, a program coordinator for Parking and Transportation Services, at the Cat Tran storage lot on South Plumer Avenue. The front gate was unlocked when we got there, but Graftonhad already left to attend to important matters.

    Mary Zenizo, an eight-year veteran of Cat Tran, arrived a few minutes later. She parked her truck and locked it, making her way inside the chain link fence.

    We greeted her as she began to complete a safety checklist on her shuttle. She examined the lights, the wheelchair ramp and the passenger door. Pulling her shuttle over to a water hose, she sprayed the front of it down, then cleaned and dried the windshield with a squeegee.

    When she had completed her safety checks, she hopped in the driver’s seat and pulled out of the lot to start her eight-hour shift.

    We headed over to Highland Garage as Zenizo set out on her route. She said that drivers select the route they want before hand. Earlier this year, she had selected the Teal Route, which was now taking her to the College of Nursing at University Medical Center.

    We met up with Zenizo again when she picked us up from a Cat Tran stop outside of the garage. We got on board the empty bus and

    enjoyed the chilly air. We picked up a few riders on our two laps around Teal route as we chatted.

    “”It’s great. You get to meet so many different kinds of people,”” Zenizo said. “”A lot of people are surprised that it is free.””

    We asked Zenizo if there was one thing about PTS that students would be surprised to know and she told us that many people are shocked to discover that Cat Tran, as well as several other PTS services, are completely free on campus.

    Zenizo also wanted us to remind Cat Tran users that detailed schedules and route maps can be found on any Cat Tran shuttle, or by visiting the PTS website.

    I eventually got off Zenizo’s shuttle in front of the Education Building, one of the timed stops on Teal route. Bidding farewell to Zenizo, I made my way over to the PTS building on Sixth Street, right in front of the Sixth Street Garage.

    I had an appointment with Elisa Tapia, PTS program coordinator for special events. I went into her office and was joined by Bill Davidson, the marketing manager.

    Tapia has been with PTS for four years but just recently landed the job of program coordinator. A typical day for Tapia would involve networking with various departments, catching up on correspondence and billing and planning for upcoming events, sometimes months in advance.

    I asked Tapia what a typical day would be like if there had been a special event on campus that day, like a football or basketball game. On those days, she said, the Special Events staff could begin working as early as 6 a.m. to prepare the garages and lots for the assault of people and vehicles they would see around game time.

    Tapia also said that Special Events relies heavily on student workers. Her department is going to be hiring around 40 students next semester to help set up and prepare for events on campus.

    “”Every area within PTS is different, and you get the benefit of getting to know the campus very well; 200,000 people could come to campus, and you get to know them. It’s a fun place,”” Tapia said. “”We try to do whatever we can for our customers in the safest way possible.””

    Davidson was as enthusiastic as Tapia and shared her sentiments on what services PTS is able to provide for students and employees.

    He was eager to inform me that PTS is doing its best everyday to expand its services, starting with a new Night Cat route that will shuttle students and employees around campus once regular Cat Tran service ends for the day at 6:30 p.m.

    Davidson also explained how his team has been working on alternative forms of transportation, like a Hertz-sponsored car-sharing program that will allow students, over the age of 18, access to rental cars so that they may drive to destinations off campus.

    PTS does not receive state funds in order to operate. They instead rely on permit sales, special event parking and parking enforcement for the revenue needed to keep the business operating smoothly every day.

    Tapia wanted us to let students know that her department is currently looking to hire about 40 students this semester for special events like football and basketball games. The job is part time and Tapia said that special events will work with students’ schedules to not interfere with class work.

    I said my good-byes to Davidson and Tapia and left the PTS building. I walked up to the Cat Tran stop in front of Sixth Street Garage and waited for the shuttle to arrive.

    When it did, I climbed aboard and set off toward Highland Garage, enjoying the fact that I was able to ride in an air conditioned shuttle rather than walk all the way across campus in the hot sun.

    “”We want students to know that we are here for them,”” Tapia said. “”We encourage people to talk to us and ask questions if they need anything.””

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