(Photo credit: Claire Cecil/Fourth Estate)
As demand for parking has increased, Parking and Transportation Services has been encouraging students to share rides to campus.
“We develop different ride share programs to help students find other carpool people or other students to carpool with to campus, and also to decrease our demand on parking as well as traffic traveling to and from campus,” said Marina Budimir, transportation coordinator for Parking and Transportation.
She said there is simply not enough space to meet demand, which is why Parking and Transportation has developed various ride sharing programs.
“Clearly we have way more people than we have parking spaces for, so what are some of the other things we can do to help alleviate the stress on students having to find parking?” Budimir said.
The following is a list of carpooling options available to Mason students.
Student carpool program
This program gives various benefits to students who agree to carpool. The perks include 20 to 40 percent off parking permits, two free daily parking passes or five daily passes at half price. Students must apply if they want to become members of the carpool program. The application deadline is Monday, September 28.
Campus carpool zones are sections of parking spaces reserved for students who share a vehicle. There are two zones on campus: one in Lot A and one on the first floor of Rappahannock parking deck. Budimir said there are 90 spots in the Lot A zone and 25 at Rappahannock. The zones are not usually filled on a daily basis, she said.
“We’re not at capacity so we haven’t had to expand it yet,” Budimir said. “However, if we get more students parking, and we need to expand it, it’s kind of designed for that because we’ll just move the barrier back to allow more space for people to park there.”
Anyone can park in a carpool zone, regardless of membership status in the carpool program. The only requirement is that the vehicle has at least two people in it. According to Transportation Office literature, an attendant will be at the zones to ensure this rule is not violated. The zones are only active Monday through Friday, between 6 and 11 a.m.
Zimride is Mason’s carpool network. Students can join and find other people to carpool with to campus. Budimir said the Mason network has approximately 3,500 members.
There are four Zipcars located on campus. Zipcar is a national car renting company. Once a member, a student can rent any Zipcar at any location, paying either by hour or by day. Budimir said that if a Mason student joins Zipcar, he or she will receive $35 in driving credit. She said two cars are located on Mason Pond Drive, one on the first level of Rappahannock and one in the upper corner of Lot R. She said the locations are meant to be convenient for on-campus students.
“We kind of have them spread throughout campus so that the residential communities can get to them easily,” Budimir said.
Budimir said if students strongly value independent transportation, then biking is a viable option.
“If it’s really about independence and saving time, I would really encourage students to try biking instead, because it’s also a one person decision.”
Parking and Transportation has a bike registration program, and about 900 students have registered a bike, according to Budimir. There are also approximately 1,300 bike parking spaces on campus.
She said biking has definitely been becoming a more popular method of transportation, and her office is taking steps to accommodate this increase.
“We’ve been adding bike racks, and we’re in the process of adding a hundred more bike racks,” Budimir said.
She said Parking and Transportation recently hired a bike mechanic who provides free services to students.
Budimir said the variety of transportation options hopefully allows students to find the most convenient travel alternative that best fits with their schedules.
“The idea is that if we all just do a little bit, one day a week, two days per week, we can really impact the number of cars traveling to campus and the demand for parking,” Budimir said.
She said that while driving alone might appear to be the easiest option, if more and more students choose that method, it will become increasingly difficult.
“I think most people would prefer to decide themselves how they want to get to campus and driving alone is one of the most convenient ways,” Budimir said. “… It’s a very independent travel choice … but when you have thousands of students trying to do the same thing, that’s where we see the competition for space and parking on campus and it becomes more difficult.”
NOTICE: Users of public transportation can no longer count on the app NextBus to let them know when the next Mason shuttle will arrive. That information can now be found with the app Ride Systems. Budimir said Ride Systems provides the same services as NextBus but at a lower price. She advised students to download this app in order to receive up-to-date information about Mason shuttle arrivals.