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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Shuttle Service Will Help Alleviate Parking Problem

On a freezing January day, a large, comfortable shuttle bus pulls up the circle drive in front of the Student Center building every 15 minutes. Students and staff get on and off, some wearing little stickers announcing that they are part of “The Solution.”

The shuttle is one of the key options available to WCC students and staff this winter as they once again face the major parking crunch caused by huge enrollment numbers. WCC had 14,000 students last fall, and 13,710 students had registered for winter semester shortly before it began.

"We did not expect this amount of growth this fast," President Larry Whitworth said. "It was a shock to end up with a better than 10 percent enrollment increase last fall, and we're already experiencing the same thing for the winter semester.”

Starting Jan. 11, employees and students can park at Eastern Michigan University’s Rynearson lot, which offers 1,000 spots just 1.5 miles from WCC, and then hop a free shuttle to WCC’s campus. The shuttle will circulate every 15 minutes from 6:45am to 6:15pm Monday through Thursday for the first 10 weeks of the semester.

But the shuttle is just one part of “The Solution” to WCC’s parking problem.

Bus Passes

Once again, WCC is offering $10 bus passes for unlimited rides on Ann Arbor Transportation Authority routes during the semester. The College issued about 1,300 bus passes for fall semester, and it continues to promote them to students and staff as a way to lessen the parking crunch, save money, and help the environment. Students and staff can purchase bus passes at the Cashier’s Office on the second floor of the Student Center building. A WCC ID is required.

Ride Sharing

The College is exploring the possibility of contracting with Zimride, an online ride sharing system that matches drivers with passengers going to the same destination. Details will be posted when they’re available.

Schedule Changes

To reduce the number of students who must be on campus at any given time, faculty are offering a variety of distance learning options, holding more evening and weekend classes, planning additional classes at extension sites, and rescheduling sections to balance the times during which popular classes are held.

Distance learning options include online classes that require no trips to campus and an expanded menu of blended classes that meet partially online and partially on campus. The blended classes are aligned to help students optimize their schedules by reducing their time on campus, said Jim Egan, dean of Distance Learning. “For example, on Tuesdays the blended offerings run back to back: political science at 9:00, then statistics, then communications, then literature, then psychology, then business,” Egan said. “That’s 20 credits’ worth, making it easy to fit a part-time or even full-time schedule into one day.”

Planning for the Future

At its December meeting, the Board of Trustees authorized the College to begin planning for a 600-space parking garage located directly south of the Campus Green, west of the pond, and east of the Crain Liberal Arts and Science building. This site would be convenient for WCC students and staff, as well as the nearly 50,000 people who visit the College each year for non-credit classes, business meetings, and social events.

The structure is estimated to cost $12 million for design and construction, and will take nearly two years to build. According to Vice President Steven Hardy, the College would borrow the money for the project and pay down the debt over 20 years through its operating expenses.

The parking structure won over other options such as adding more parking spaces around the perimeter of campus or building another surface lot. “If you’re looking at cost alone, adding spaces to the existing lots is more cost effective,” said Damon Flowers, associate vice president of Facilities Management. “But the structure will be designed to be expandable. Plus, given the current economy, we’re probably going to get very good construction prices for the structure. From a strategic point of view, it’s probably the best long-term solution.”

Parking in the garage will be free, Whitworth said. "We want to make sure people have access to education,” he said. “If you can't get here, you can't have access."

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For media inquiries, contact:


Susan Ferraro
Director Media Relations
734-677-5295
snferraro@wccnet.edu

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