Yesterday I attended a student forum with members of the University of Maryland’s administration regarding plans for a pilot test this summer where our main road “Campus Drive” will be closed to both passenger vehicles and transit minus emergency vehicles and a couple of campus connector Shuttle-UM buses. If the pilot is successful, this transit idea could become a mainstay in a couple of years.
Closing Campus Drive to cars is a fine idea in my view, but only because that would allow the buses to get around quicker. As someone who has missed a Shuttle-UM bus on its way to our metro station 1.5 miles away, and then beaten it on my legs to the station, our buses would greatly benefit from less traffic on Campus Drive. I could see mobility for students around campus and around College Park significantly improving if we closed off Campus Drive to cars, but allowed buses. It would also shorten travel times for the Metro buses that pass through the heart of campus.
I just don’t under stand how banning both buses and cars improves at all on the situation. Before they were both clogging up campus drive, now they’re both going to clog some side roads on the outside of campus. All we’ve done is abandoned transit at the center of campus, which not only sucks in the near-term, but probably jeopardizes the likelihood of the Purple Line using the Campus Drive alignment if the road ends up being permanently closed after this pilot.
The funny thing is, all that this forum convinced me is the administrators don’t understand what this does either, or why they’re doing it. At least, they wouldn’t admit to us why they were actually doing it. Most of students questions were answered in five words or less, involve some combination of the words “i don’t know” and “okay”. It was like they weren’t even trying to manage this from a PR perspective, which is unusual for them.
Jesse Yurow, a junior environmental science and policy major, said the program doesn’t fit in with two key passages in the plan: “maximize use of alternatives to driving to campus” and “improve the campus’s integration into the regional transit system network.
“OK,” he said.