Campus transportation will have a new look this fall. New on-campus bus routes and parking policies went into effect Monday, and many CABS buses are outfitted with new safety technology.
Students used to parking in West Campus Carmack lots might need to park elsewhere, as the majority of those lots will now be reserved for employees of The Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State. The switch comes as a result of the construction on Cannon Drive scheduled to begin on Sept. 5. Both the Polo and Dodd lots will close as a result of the construction, losing 2,100 spots total.
Carmack Lots 1, 2, 3 and 4 will be available for those with WA and WB parking permits, only available to faculty and staff. Some of the 1,500 spaces at Carmack Lot 5 will still be available for students with WC and CX passes; staff can buy CX permits, as well.
“If they buy a WC — which they’re used to buying traditionally — or something called the CXC, it will allow you to park in the Buckeye Lots along Fred Taylor Drive, or out here on West Campus,” said Dan Hedman, an Ohio State spokesman. “The WC pass is limited to West Campus. They cost the same and it’s really up to the student on which they want to purchase.”
The Buckeye Lot has around the same amount of spaces as Carmack Lot, with around 2,100 spaces, said Beth Snoke, director of transportation and traffic management at Ohio State. Buses will be stopping there every six to seven minutes, with routes consisting mostly of Campus Loop North and Campus Loop South.
Ohio State Police will increase their patrol in the Buckeye and Carmack lots due to the increase in activity expected at those areas.
The Polo and Dodd lots will close Sept. 5, however the North Cannon Garage will stay open, but only for medical center patients.
The Dodd lot will act as an access for emergency vehicles and those trying to reach the medical center.
Football parking will be available at the 9th Avenue garages or West Campus parking lots, Hedman said.
West Campus bus route
The plausible influx in West Campus parking comes with the introduction of a new bus route: the West Campus bus route, said Beth Snoke, director of transportation and traffic management at Ohio State.
The West Campus route will run every 15 minutes and take riders throughout campus, similar to Campus Loop North and Campus Loop South, Hedman said.
This route serves those parking in the Carmack lots, in an effort to reduce any traffic caused by employee rush hours. Now that medical center staff will be parking on West Campus, peak times are expected between 5:30 and 9:30 a.m., and around 7 p.m., Hedman said.
Also delivering to and from West Campus lots will be the Med Center Express. Buses are set to arrive every three minutes at Carmack Lots 2 and 3. The North Campus express buses are set to arrive every six minutes.
Also new to West Campus are heated and air-conditioned bus stop shelters complete with Wi-Fi access.
A transit hub will open Sept. 5 on Herrick Drive, south of the RPAC. The hub’s purpose is to relieve potential Medical Center traffic caused by Cannon Drive construction and act as a drop off for all bus routes, except North Campus Express and Buckeye Village.
The hub will be similar to the West Campus shelters; it will include climate-controlled temperatures and Wi-Fi.
Though it will start off as a shelter in September, future plans for the hub include an actual building that students, staff and riders can walk in and wait for their rides, Hedman said.
In the 2016-17 academic year, CABS had a ridership near 5 million. To keep the bus drivers and riders safe, CABS has added 10 cameras to each of its 50 buses, Snoke said.
“We felt it was time. Our peers in the industry are doing it. It is actually very positive from a risk-management standpoint because many times in an accident it’s he-said-she-said,” Snoke said. “They show a lot to protect not only our drivers, but also we can use them for training — all kinds of good things.
Snoke said the camera footage will be used in cases where any accident occurs, similar to COTA, Columbus’ public bus system. The cost of installing 10 cameras into each of the 50 functioning CABS vehicles totaled $340,000.
New Buses, CABS Hires
Six new compressed natural gas buses will be added to the four that are currently on campus. The buses were first introduced to campus in 2015.
Different from typical CABS buses, the compressed natural-gas buses will have perimeter seating, meaning each seat will face toward the center.
Snoke said this change in design was meant to increase a community feel to commutes; the new layout took away a few bus seats, but opens up more standing room, she said.
CABS also added 10 non compressed natural gas buses this year — six new and four refurbished. They currently have 26 drivers but are looking to hire cut 10 more to meet the anticipated increase in demand due to staying open on weekends and holidays, specifically for medical center staff to use.