By Вen Li
Twenty-five hundred new parking stalls are now available around the university to ease parking congestion brought on by the Calgary Transit strike.
"We’ve gained access to the park and ride at the C-train parking lot at the Brentwood LRT station and beside McMahon Stadium," said University of Calgary Director of Ancillary Services Peter Fraser. "We’ve also established the single entry program of a dollar for all the pay lots [for cars with three or more people]."
Fraser said most of the traffic on campus increased early in the week due to pick-ups and drop-offs.
"The traffic into parking lots hasn’t changed all that much, which tells us that people have been carpooling," said Fraser, noting the increase in bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
In addition to offering discount rates for carpoolers at parking lots, the university and Students’ Union are promoting a carpooling site at www.carpool.ca, which may decrease student absenteeism. According to the city, attendance at post-secondary institutions around the city was down by about 10 per cent on Monday, which is consistent with estimates for the U of C.
"We have heard about student absenteeism; there’s a significant amount," said SU Vice-president External Duncan Wojtaszek. "What’s also very interesting is the number of students complaining about their classes being cancelled because professors aren’t able to make it [to class]. Profs are saying that students aren’t able to make it and are coming late, and it’s difficult because it’s midterm season. The transit strike has affected the entire campus community."
Wojtaszek notes that since attendance is not taken in most classes, specific statistics are not available. Students who can’t make it to class may be eligible for help from the city.
"In situations where all other avenues have been exhausted, we’ve launched the temporary Trip Assistance program," said City of Calgary spokesperson Peter Brodsky. "Students who are over 18, living out of their parents’ home with an income below a certain level can qualify for taxi vouchers for their trips to and from university. It’s a chip that you deliver to the [taxi] driver upon finishing your trip. Each voucher is good for a one-way trip and covers the cost of your journey."
The taxi vouchers came on the heels of failed attempts by the SU to bus students to campus.
"Busing students in is proving to be too expensive, and insurance wise it’s proving to be very, very difficult," said Wojtaszek. "The Calgary Board of Education was able to secure the vast majority of traditional yellow school buses in the city in preparation for their strike plans. Other options available to us, like Greyhound buses, were just simply outside the resources of the Students’ Union."
Other students’ unions in the city are continuing to lobby their administrations to do what U of C administration has done: lower parking prices, increase the number of spots available and promote carpooling.
The city has an information line set up at 236-4636 to answer questions about their program.