New transit and covered bike shelters at Illinois State University are the latest additions to a growing alternative transportation infrastructure on campus. The shelters were provided free of charge by MssMedia, a Florida-based advertising company. The cost of the shelters is paid for by selling ad space on the large interior panels. Illinois State will receive 10 percent of the gross revenue generated by the advertising and will use that money to support campus transit programs.
New transit shelters are placed at various locations across campus, including the main bus stop on the corner of North Street and Fell Avenue near Watterson Towers and near Bone Student Center. Bike shelters, located near some residence halls, give riders a covered location for parking their bicycles out of the elements. In addition to advertisements by national and local companies, the shelters provide space for promoting Illinois State events. The University’s Office of Parking and Transportation will also lease panels to display Bloomington-Normal Public Transit System (B-NPTS) maps.
“In keeping with the university’s sustainable initiatives, our goal is to become a multimodal campus,” said Parking and Transportation Director Julie North. “Installing new transit shelters and covered bike shelters helps in achieving this goal”.
The new transit and bike shelters are part of a larger initiative to encourage members of the Illinois State community to utilize alternate means of transportation on campus and around Bloomington-Normal. Faculty, staff and students can ride free of charge on any B-NPTS fixed bus route simply by showing their University ID card. Other established partnerships with B-NPTS include Redbird Express buses providing transportation around campus, and Nite Ride and Late Nite Ride, providing weekday and weekend evening bus service to locations including Uptown Normal and Downtown Bloomington.
“Illinois State University ridership on the shuttles and universal fixed routes is 37.6 percent of total B-NPTS ridership,” said North. “In fall of 2009, Parking and Transportation Services launched a web survey regarding alternative transportation options. This data has been included in a recently completed Transportation Demand Management Plan, (TDM) located on the Parking website as well as a comprehensive parking space utilization review. This plan includes recommended strategies to maximize the use of existing transportation options, improve and increase bus frequencies, and maximize existing parking space.”
North notes that the benefits of a TDM include strategies for decreasing the need for parking space, resulting in a more pedestrian-friendly campus, reducing auto-related emissions, improving air quality, decreasing traffic congestion, increasing travel options for faculty, staff, students and visitors and improving the livability within the campus environment.
Bicycles have long been a popular mode of transportation for students and are a common site at Illinois State. In recent years more and more faculty and staff have begun leaving their cars at home and commuting to work by bike. In order to encourage more bike ridership, campus bike rack facilities have been enhanced, including the new covered bike shelters and the installation of hanging bike racks in the North University Street and School Street garages.
Faculty, staff and students can show their University ID and check out a bicycle free of charge at the Bowling and Billiards Center through The Reggie Ride program. The program, a joint effort of Facilities Management, the College of Applied Science and Technology, the Dean of Students office, the University Health Education Coordinating Committee and the Green Team, has also contributed to campus sustainability by reusing unclaimed bicycles that were left behind by students.
Cars will always be a part of the transportation picture, but members of the campus community now have ways to make car travel more economical, efficient and environmentally friendly. “In accordance with the sustainability initiatives on campus, Parking and Transportation Services added compact and hybrid spaces in the South University Garage over the summer,” North said. “Locations for future carpool spaces will be determined and placed throughout campus and we are pursuing the feasibility of establishing a van pool.”
Illinois State recently established a ride share program using the online service AlterNetRides. Those interested in carpooling can sign up through a link on the Office of Parking and Transportation’s website and post ride information.
The University also has a Ford Escape, a Toyota Prius and a sporty Cooper Mini available for short term use through the Connect by Hertz car sharing program. The program, which allows participants to rent a car by the hour or by the day for a small fee, offers an economical, convenient and socially conscious alternative to car ownership. The car share plan utilizes a paperless program so members can reserve the cars via the Internet or phone. Membership also includes insurance, fuel, roadside assistance, maintenance and cleaning.
To register for the program, visit www.connectbyhertz.com and click the Illinois State University link.
More information on campus sustainability initiatives can be found on the Sustainability website.