Anticipating a parking shortage in fall, UBC works to address COVID-19 transit concerns

UBC is developing plans to address the expected increase in cars on campus in the fall.

Due to COVID-19, the university predicted that more people than normal will be driving to campus this year for safety reasons. UBC’s Transportation Working Group is hoping to encourage the community to take other forms of transit to campus.

The working group is made up of Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs at UBC Media Relations, along with a representative of Campus and Community Planning, a member of the Provost’s Office, “another communicator” and the head of parking.

“The Transportation Working Group was set up after it became clear through hearing from students, faculty and staff that there were concerns around transit system safety,” Ramsey said.

He added that the university saw a need to “encourage people to consider alternate forms of transportation, including biking, busing and carpooling, because the university simply doesn't have enough parking spots to accommodate what we would anticipate the demand [to be].”

The working group’s role is mainly to “advise the community about the options that are available to them” as well as make recommendations on possible options to both UBC and TransLink, Ramsey said. He added that the group is “looking at expanding secure parking for bikes” as well as helping with the development of a new ten-day multipack parking pass for staff and faculty.

In terms of tangible changes to address potential parking issues, UBC’s new partnership with Liftango and TransLink, and the creation of reserved parking spots for students who use the Liftango app to carpool, are intended to incentivize fewer people to bring their cars to campus. Separate from UBC, TransLink is exploring implementing a trial feature on its app, where users will ideally be able to see predictive seat availability along with the bus times.

TransLink also reinstated its mask mandate on Tuesday.

Tina Lovgreen, senior manager of media relations and issues management at TransLink stated that the working group “is led by staff at UBC, [who] then come to us with any feedback from students, faculty, or staff.” Lovgreen did not comment on how feedback from the working group is used in TransLink’s decision making processes.

Ramsey expressed hope that “the group won't have to meet for a long time” because the message of taking other forms of transit will have gotten through.

“Folks should consider alternate forms of transportation and behave accordingly,” he said.