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U of C hopes to curb campus vehicle use

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The Office of Sustainability and Parking and Transportation Services at the University of Calgary have implemented several initiatives to help reduce car use on and around campus this fall.

A carpool program, one of the initiatives, gives a 50 per cent discount on parking for all cars with at least three people.

"Currently the carpool discount is available in Lots 10, 11, 32 and the Arts Parkade," said Susan Austen, Parking and Traffic Services director.

The university also has a partnership with carpool.ca that matches drivers with people looking for a ride.

Carshare, a partnership with Hertz Canada, is launching this fall as well.

The program allows anyone 18 or older with a clean driving record to rent a vehicle at reasonable rates, explained Austen.

"Cost to rent the vehicle is between $9.50 and $12 per hour based on the vehicle rented," said Austen. "The U of C will have four vehicles to start."

To book a vehicle for use visit connectbyhertz.com.

"The website to apply is almost ready and we hope to have it operational by next week," said Austen. "The vehicles for the program should also be on site by September 14."

Currently, free parking for motorcycles is available in lots 16, 18, 19, 21, 24 and 53 as well as near the west entrance of Scurfield Hall and the traffic loop between the Rosza Centre and Craigie Hall F.

Victoria Obligacion, a bachelor of commerce student, takes full advantage of the services.

"I ride my motorcycle to school as often as I can and it's such a bonus to get a free stall," she said.

The UPass expanded its services to include free transit for full-time undergraduate students in the spring and summer semesters in 2011.

"Previously spring and summer UPasses were only available to full time graduate students," said Anna Nowaczyk, Office of Sustainability programs and communications coordinator.

Fourth-year communication and culture student James O'Connor is happy about the new transportation resources.

"I take spring and summer classes so I'm pretty stoked to be able to use my UPass outside of the academic year," said O'Connor.

"The UPass program has been instrumental in reducing vehicles coming to campus," said Austen.

Austen said the U of C is working with volunteer organization Bike Root to create initiatives to curb car use.

A permanent relationship between the university and Bike Root is in the works said Austen.

However the issue of locating a suitable space for the organization is holding back further progress. Bike Root hours and services were significantly cut after they lost their space in Murray Fraser Hall. A temporary storage area was erected on the west side of campus.

Bike cages will be operational until Spring 2011. Three cages, capable of holding 30-40 bikes will be located throughout campus. These cages are aimed to promote cycling and protect bicycles from the elements.

"[The cages] will have a small user fee attached to them and they will be bought through parking and transportation services," said Austen. "The fee will be charged primarily to provide revenue to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the facility."

"As our population grows we need to add to these programs and try to encourage all drivers to think about and perhaps try alternatives," added Austen. "We are hoping to find a balance for parking demands and these alternatives are an important part of overall transportation [at] the U of C."

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