November 11, 2005

Changes in store for campus shuttle routes

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Vanderbilt Traffic officials are implementing a series of changes to the campus shuttle route system aimed at improving service and safety.
photo by Anne Rayner

Changes in store for campus shuttle routes

Effective Wednesday, Nov. 16, the major Vanderbilt campus shuttle bus routes will be upgraded to improve service and aid safety.

The changes are in response to comments from riders, guidance from traffic professionals and the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and review of proposed routes by the Vanderbilt University Staff Council and the Traffic and Parking Committee.

“In the spirit of elevate, we asked riders for comments about shuttle service,” said Gene Ornes, director of Medical Center Traffic and Parking. “A number of people who travel on the Red and Green routes said buses should run more frequently. Also, riders on the Blue Route helped draw attention to safety concerns related to peak traffic hours and people having to cross the street when they get off at the garage.”

Combined, the three routes being changed have a daily ridership of more than 4,000.

The Blue Route, which is the most traveled shuttle route on campus, will continue to link the shuttle parking lots and Central Garage (which is located at 25th Avenue South and Highland Avenue) with Medical Center North.

However, during the peak hours of 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m., Blue Route buses will skip the Central Garage stop. Instead, a new route, the Gold Route, will link Central Garage with Medical Center North during these peak hours. To address safety concerns, riders on the Gold Route will not have to cross traffic when they get off at Central Garage.

The Green Route, which links the shuttle lots with buildings along 22nd Avenue South and Children's Way, will be expanded to serve the Central Garage and the South Garage. This expanded Green Route will absorb the Red Route, which links Central and South garages with buildings on 22nd Avenue South. Buses taking the new Green Route will run more frequently, every four to five minutes instead of every seven to eight, Ornes said.

The Red Route will be discontinued as a separate route.

The new shuttle routes will help accommodate changes to campus traffic patterns that will begin in early December when the Medical Center opens a new 375-space staff and faculty shuttle parking lot, located behind lots 73 and 74 in the southwestern corner of the campus.

The Blue and Green routes will also take advantage of a new traffic light being installed at the intersection of Jess Neely Drive and Natchez Trace, located at the southwest corner of the Dudley Field stadium. The new light is meant to improve traffic flow, Ornes said.

Other commuter news

• Coinciding with a rise in gas prices, ridership rose 25 percent from September to October in the Vanderbilt MTA Free Ride program. In October, about 400 Vanderbilt employees per day rode the bus to work and home for free with a swipe of their ID badge.

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation recently recognized Vanderbilt as one of the nation's “Best Workplaces for Commuters.” The award comes in recognition of the MTA Free Ride program, a new, no hassle VUMC car pool program called FlexPool, added racks around campus for bicycles, and alternative work policies that help some employees avoid driving in peak traffic hours.

• More than 496 employees have participated in FlexPool in the program's first four months. FlexPool participants will see their July through October car pool parking fee reductions on their November payroll checks. Technical difficulties delayed the start of the parking fee reductions, which will be monthly from now on.

• To free additional campus parking spaces, all of the approximately 100 employees of Central Parking who arrive each day to manage campus parking facilities have joined construction workers in parking at an off-site shuttle lot located near the University's Chestnut Street facility.