Serving Arizona State University Online Since 1995  Current Issue: Thursday, September 01, 2005





Bus Pass: ASU is solving parking problems

...with free bus passes. But does it work?

 by Stephanie Berger
 published on Thursday, September 1, 2005



They both see it at the same time. They rev their engines and speed forward, risking collision in the elusive quest for the object of their desire: an ASU parking space.

With less than 19,000 spaces available for student and faculty parking on campus, it's not unusual to see this battle play out as students fight for a spot. ASU commuters are known for their dislike of Parking and Transit Services, and ASU's plans for expansion that will gradually eliminate 5,000 more of these coveted spaces won't alleviate the situation.

Although ASU is taking spots away from students, the university is offering a solution to parking problems with its recently launched Unlimited Access Bus Pass program.

The bus pass allows all ASU students, faculty and staff to ride the Valley Metro buses for free. All that stands between a student and free public transportation, besides a fear of smelly strangers, is the need to show a valid ASU ID to the PTS office.

PTS Information Specialist Mark Krug says that ASU is not trying to ignore the parking problem. He says that ASU would like to build more parking structures, but can't because the campus is landlocked by local businesses and has nowhere to expand. He says that students also don't realize how expensive parking structures are to build. Depending on how large they are, structures can cost $12,000 per space.

Krug says that when the Metro light rail opens in 2008 it should alleviate some congestion problems. But until then he says it's time for students to get used to the idea of public transportation.

"ASU is becoming a metropolitan campus where coming by yourself in one vehicle just isn't going to be feasible anymore," Krug says.

OK, so the parking situation isn't going to get better, and ASU can't do anything about it. But are free bus passes really the answer to our parking woes?

SPM was conflicted by our desire to both try anything for free and to avoid the public bus system and its notoriously odorous riders at any cost. But, we sucked it up, got our bus pass and set out for the nearest stop, skeptically prepared for the worst.

I attempted to take the bus from Broadway Road and Hardy Drive to College Avenue in time to arrive at ASU for my 12:40 p.m. class. I thought that leaving at noon would be sufficient, and it probably would have if I had waited at the right bus stop. Twenty minutes later, I had learned a valuable lesson for any novice bus-rider. Apparently, there are four bus stops on every main intersection, one on each corner. Each one is for a different bus route.

Yes, I am that clueless.

After giving up on making it to class on time, I was determined to actually get on a bus. I waited at the right stop on the other side of the street for the bus that was supposed to arrive at 1:02 p.m. It was only four minutes late. It took 12 minutes to get to campus, which was exactly how long the online Metro schedule had told me it would.

I stumbled off the bus, slightly confused and begrudgingly had to admit public transportation actually is reliable and really could get me to school on time if I wanted to leave my car in the garage at home.

While I'll probably still drive my car to campus on most days, I feel a little less justified in complaining about not being able to find a space. I have to give PTS some credit for its reliable transportation program, but I'm still pissed.

What am I supposed to focus all my negative energy on now? Thanks a lot, PTS.

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