Enterprise Story: LTD and the University of Oregon

Story by: Melissa Murray

Lane Transit District and the University of Oregon

In the Pacific Northwest city of Eugene is The University of Oregon. At the university, parking is scarce. For this very reason, many students live close to campus. It is popular to walk, bike and take the bus for those who live far. The bus system in Eugene is the Lane Transit District or LTD. LTD has been transporting people around the Eugene-Springfield area for a little over 40 years. They originally started with 18 buses and two vans, but now they have on average about 41 passengers per hour.

When LTD first started in 1970, they had Volkswagon microvans. In 2001, LTD purchased 22 hybrid buses to fight against the Federal Clean Air Act. In 1992, this act set standards for clean air. If the standard was not met, funding for public transportation would decrease. LTD responded and has set high goals for the future and other public transit districts. The buses themselves are very clean. They are each equipped with a driver, handicapped features and comfortable seats.

Also apart of LTD is the EMX. This is the “BART” of the Eugene-Springfield area. It gets one from the Eugene Station all the way to Gateway Mall. It is fast and efficient. A day pass for the bus is $3.50 for adults. A ten-ride ticket boot is $16.00. If you ride the bus a lot you might want to look in to getting a one-month or three-month pass. One month is $48.00, and the three-month pass is $130.00. Students with ID and those with medical disabilities ride for free. Children under 5 don’t have to pay as well.

Many students at the University don’t have cars. Those that do have cars don’t usually drive because finding a parking spot takes longer than it does to bike or walk to school. The reason there is scare parking is because the University encourages students and staff to walk, bike or take public transit. Parking on campus can be difficult and expensive. $1.70 per hour can get pricey. However, Eugene parking is making it easier because you can pay with a credit card rather than collecting quarters. Although it is now easier to pay for parking, the same amount of parking spaces exist, which is not many. LTD is there to make sure you can go where you need to go, and get there in a timely manner.

Profile: Kristen Gleason

Many routes of transportation exist in the busy city of Eugene. Students are constantly riding their bikes, walkers fill the sidewalks and buses seem to be everywhere you turn. Cars also run the streets near the University of Oregon. On 13th Avenue, one can see all these types of transportation. Walking down the street you might even spot Kristen Gleason commuting to work from home. Gleason lives only about 2 miles from campus, but her commute takes her about 30 minutes. Gleason relies on the bus to get her half way to work. She walks the rest of the way because it is the most time efficient route.

Gleason is the Club Sports Director at the University of Oregon. Before coming to Oregon, Gleason lived on the East Coast. She grew up in the metropolitan area of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. After obtaining a degree in Journalism from St. Michaels College in Vermont, Gleason got her masters in Sports Management from the University of Connecticut. She attended Boston College, studying Curriculum and Instruction Education. Gleason now resides in Eugene where she directs club sports teams, and guides them in the right direction.

During the summer time in Eugene, mornings are bright and sunny says Gleason. She wakes up around 7 in the morning to find sun gleaming through her window. After getting ready for work, Gleason waits patiently outside for the bus to pick her up. As the bus approaches her, the bus driver opens the door with a smile and welcomes her on the bus. “I am always impressed with the bus drivers”, says Gleason. Sitting next to a window, Gleason puts on her headphones and listens to podcasts during her commute to Eugene Station. This is a pleasant time for her because she doesn’t have to think about much. Once Gleason gets dropped off at Eugene Station she then walks to campus, which takes her about 20 minutes. Gleason enjoys taking the bus during the summer because it is warm and light outside, even when she is going home. This makes for a safer more comfortable environment.

Before coming to Oregon Gleason lived in Massachusetts where she worked with special education students as a Teachers Assistant. Gleason lived on campus, so she never had to pay for parking or commute. When she came to Oregon, she refused to pay for a long term parking pass because she had never had to do that in the past. After about seven weeks, Gleason caved in and bought a parking pass. She did this because she was tired of walking in the rain early in the morning and doing the same late at night. Later on in the term, when Gleason did not have to come into work until 10:00 am, she found that finding a parking space was nearly impossible. “It is not a parking pass, but more like a pass to look for parking”, says Anthone, a staff member at the University of Oregon who faces the same problems that Gleason does.

Late Thursday night around 5:00 pm during fall term, Gleason sits at her desk at the bottom floor of the EMU on campus. Trying to get as much work done as possible, student athletes lurk around the club sports office, talking of future tournaments in California and fundraising ideas. Gleason finishes her paperwork and packs up as she tries to make the 6:30. She explains that if you don’t make the bus before 6:30 pm, the later buses come every hour, rather than every half hour. Gleason does not find the bus to be an ideal form of transportation during the winter months. After walking to 20 minutes from campus to Eugene Station, Gleason awaits the next bus to catch. Next to her waiting are two other people who are clearly exchanging illegal substances. It is things like these that annoy Gleason about public transit in Eugene. “I have seen more at that downtown bus station than I have in downtown Boston at night”, say Gleason. Although in the morning the bus picks her up at her apartment, at night, this is not the case. The bus drops Gleason off several blocks from her apartment. Gleason is left to walk alone is the dark.

Although at times the bus can be inconvenient, it serves Gleason and many others every day. Gleason says the buses are the best she has ever been on. They are clean, they run well and the people that drive them are friendly. Gleason thinks it is a great idea to encourage public transportation. In order to fix the problems that Gleason faces, the city needs to look at the people around the station. Gleason ads that the downtown area is unfortunate, it is a people problem. If the city can fix the amount of homeless people in Eugene, riding the bus would be a much more enjoyable experience for Gleason. “The university should support downtown development”, says Gleason. Maybe one day the university and the city can work together and make Eugene Station the place to be.

Q&A: Gwen Bolden

Name:  Gwendolyn Bolden

Occupation:  Director of Parking & Transportation

  1. What is the main purpose of your job?

To direct the department of Parking and Transportation in managing resources that support faculty, staff, students, and visitors access and egress for the University of Oregon.

2. Is it on purpose that parking is scarce at the University of Oregon?

Currently we maintain appropriate parking for our campus. Although there are some areas that are more popular than others, we continue to have parking available in the perimeter lots.  We have approximately 3500 parking spaces yet we have only sold 2500 parking permits.  We do promote and have an abundance of customers that use alternative forms or transportation.

3. How do you encourage students to take public transportation?

We consistently review our locations for bike racks and add more as needed. We continue to explore alternative transportation modes. We have worked with LTD to ensure that our users can access alternative modes EMX and municipal bus services at no cost.

4. Do you collaborate with LTD about student bus fares and plans? If so, how often?

We do not have set meeting however we make contact on most events and new programs that effect campus.

5. What is the University doing to encourage public transportation?

Services provided at no cost to university affiliates are the biggest incentive we use to encourage public transportation.  We now staff new employee orientations to make new employees aware of all transportation options.  We will continue to participate in events on campus that promote transportation options.

6. If you buy a parking pass, are you guaranteed a spot?

You are not guaranteed a specific spot unless you purchase a reserved parking space.  We do not oversell to the point that no spaces are available.  Spaces may be in more remote areas however we still have space available.   We have not oversold our capacity.

7.What plans are there for the future with public transit on campus? More buses going more places? More frequent run times?

We continue to support the outdoor program with their initiatives for bike share and other programs. We continue to explore transit options that include off campus parking with shuttles into the core of campus. We constantly seek other method of transportation with LTD and the City of Eugene.

Multimedia: Andy Vobora

About melissa4murray

My name is Melissa, but you can call me melmur. I am a Journalism student at the University of Oregon. I am a long and lanky athlete. I play lacrosse and I ride my Gravity board down big hills to pump adrenaline through my veins. I go on long bike rides with my Dad, while my Mother and I raid TravelZoo to find our next big adventure. I am fascinated by the Mexican culture. I lived in Queretaro for a year and stuffed myself with street tacos. I love Mexico. Despite what the media says about the dangers lurking in this country, I can tell you right now, there is nothing to worry about. I spent the majority of my time traveling and look! I am still alive. I love food, so we should meet up for lunch sometime!
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