It’s regrettably true that North Campus can seem like a separate college for those who live there. And the difficulty of traveling between North Campus and Central Campus is certainly a major factor in that feeling of isolation, as anyone who has attempted the journey at peak hours can attest to. But with important developments happening on North Campus, the University is planning to look into ways of easing the strain on existing methods of transportation. The University should consider all options to improve transportation between North Campus and Central Campus and should aim for a greener commute.
In her annual State of the University address on Oct. 5, University President Mary Sue Coleman announced the formation of a committee to explore transportation alternatives to improve intercampus connectivity. The committee, scheduled to meet in early 2010, would consist of transportation experts and local authorities. According to an Oct. 8 AnnArbor.com article, the committee will consider a wide array of options to expand the University’s transportation system, including a new bus stop on Fuller Road across from the hospital, better bicycle lanes and a rail system. The committee wants to address current inequities in intercampus connectivity and insure that the transportation needs of the University population are fully met.
For many students, North Campus may seem like a far-off land, home only to Bursley and Baits Residence Halls, freshmen and a host of brainy engineers. But according to the University, around 10,000 students and faculty members live and work on North Campus. To prevent the creation of a divided campus, it is essential to have a smooth transportation system connecting these two areas. And the current system, with cramped buses and long rides, isn’t cutting it.
Improving transportation to North Campus is especially important due to developments in the last year. One of the catalysts behind the formation of the transportation committee was the University’s purchase the 174-acre former Pfizer site, which has now been renamed the North Campus Research Complex. According to the Daily, about 2,000 employees are expected to inhabit the NCRC when it opens for regular business, definitely increasing traffic to North Campus. To compensate, more avenues for transportation are clearly needed.
As the University looks for ways to expand transportation, it should keep in mind that a well-organized mass transit system should be environmentally friendly. For example, both the city and the University run buses on bio-diesel rather than conventional fuels. But the University has resisted following the city’s example of switching to hybrid buses. Although initially costly, hybrid buses are cheaper in the long run and better for the environment. Now could be a prime opportunity for the University to make this investment. Greener transportation methods are both dependable and conscientious.
North Campus shouldn’t feel like that distant step cousin you only see at Christmas. The University needs to offer students and employees more options for bridging the gap between the two campuses, because with the NCRC opening, the buses are only going to get tighter.