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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

Keep Off The Grass

Bring a Shovel
Bring a Shovel

Since the decision to close the parking garages on July 19, the flow of traffic in the parking lots has steadily been improving. However, with winter approaching, and some sudden set backs, like rain closing down grass parking in the South Lot on Nov. 8, some may question where the focus of campus safety lies.

“Our parking and transportation plan is a work in progress this year,” director of Public Safety Phil O’Donnell said. “Construction is ongoing to improve lighting and create safer pedestrian pathways. As new lots come on line and gravel lots are paved, we will be working with Parking & Transportation on these important issues. Our goal is to maintain a safe environment from the minute a student or visitor arrives on campus.”

When the garages were initially closed, safety was a top priority. This remains the primary focus, as is evident in the plans for upcoming initiatives.

“From the initiation of our new parking and transportation plan, the Department of Public Safety has provided additional officers as part of the safety focus of the plan,” O’Donnell said. “You will continue to see Public Safety closely connected to the parking facilities, assisting pedestrians, directing motorists, and patrolling the lots themselves. Combined with the services of Parking and Transportation staff and increased lighting, our temporary lots will continue to be safe for motorists and pedestrians.”

Parking and Transportation made up for the 1,100 parking spots lost from the closing of the garages by creating gravel lots in some of UMass Boston’s green spaces. They created a thousand spots with these lots, and are planning additional lots for the coming months.

“The plans are for some gravel lots you see now to eventually be paved before the asphalt plants close this year,” director of Parking and Transportation Steve Martinson said. “These paved lots will also be lined. This will improve our ability to plow these lots, as well as improve traffic flow. We are also construction a paved lot behind U Drive Lots A and B. These paving projects are tentatively slated to be substantially complete sometime in December.”

Along with the addition of lots, Parking and Transportation is keeping track of how UMass Boston students and faculty are getting to campus, to help prepare for the winter.

“We are constantly monitoring traffic flow, shuttle bus rider ship, and customer satisfaction,” Martinson said. “The week of Nov. 27, we will be doing a transportation survey in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to ask a sample of the UMass Boston community how they get to campus, why they choose the options they do and to tell us about their commuting habits.”

Despite how much of a hassle the adjustments at the beginning of the semester may have appeared, the responses that Parking and Transportation received were positive. The department feels like the coming winter should prove to be no problem.

“We realize it was quite an adjustment for everybody and we’re pleased that it worked out well,” Martinson said. “We’ll continue to make adjustments to our plan as we see fit in order to improve services. We have met with the Facilities Department to develop a coordinated effort to plough and clear existing lots and our newly paved lots as well. Our Parking & Transportation staff has adequate facilities and communications tools. We feel like we are in good shape heading into the winter months.”

A possibility to deter issues that could arise from parking is the addition of housing for students. The addition of dormitories in theory would decrease the issue of parking, but the ratios of students with cars to students without cars may in fact stay the same.

“If we continue the policy here, that anybody can have a car that wants one, I don’t think a residence hall would change it drastically,” assistant dean of students Joyce Morgan said. “I think we would still find ourselves with approximately half of those students having a car, half of them wouldn’t. I think the numbers would be the same as what our breakdown is now, for two reasons: some people will always want to have a car, some families may feel more comfortable with their student not having a car because they’re living on campus. About 60 percent of those students may not have cars, 40 percent of them may have cars, much like the regular commuter ratios, unless the policy was that students living on campus couldn’t have cars.”

By following the instructions of the public safety officers, allowing extra time for parking and heading to class and those who continue to commute via the T or commuter rail, the changes so far have not been entirely difficult. Continuing the trend will allow success throughout the winter season.

“We saw a positive response to our new parking and transportation plan,” O’Donnell said. “The Department of Public Safety personnel played an integral role in meeting the parking challenge and the needs of the university community. We look forward to continued positive response as progress through the school year.”