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Parking Study (Feasibility Study Conclusions)

The following was taken from Higher Education Transit Study, Final Report, June 1995. Prepared by Ortmann Planning & Design, in association with: Olivarri & Associates, Inc., Charlier Associates, Inc., HNTB, Inc., Strategic Interfaces., The Center for Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, UTPA.

Download full study here.

Study Conclusions and Observations

A number of conclusions and observations were developed during the study. These key findings were greatly influenced by the survey conducted in December which, while not a statistically scientific survey, offered interesting results:
  • Limited interaction between UTPA and STCC at present makes shuttle service between the two campuses unlikely to be cost-effective.
  • A majority of people would continue to use their current means of transportation even if a shuttle or transit system was available.
  • Support exists for transit systems improvements, even if it would require some increase in fees.

Based On the Survey and Other Study Tasks Key Observations Include:

A traditional fixed-route transit system designed solely to serve the higher education institutions would not be cost-effective at this time. Disparate trip origins and trip times will create inefficiencies in service, making it expensive to operate at a reasonable frequency to attract riders. The higher educational community, however, could be an important market segment for any area-wide or city service.

Lack of density around campuses creates inefficiencies in having campus shuttles. Campuses simply are not large enough to encourage heavy use of systems at this time. It is critical that the physical plans of the institutions recognize and plan for a time in the future when the campuses will be larger and campus shuttles are needed. This means identifying and protecting an internal circulation route for the future.

In addition to working with others, such as the Cities of Edinburg and McAllen, in their transit efforts, UTPA should create a more active and visible ride share program with preferential parking incentives.

UTPA has traffic conflict issues that need to be addressed by better signage, traffic lights and/or pedestrian/bike crossing and paths. At UTPA, there needs to be improved alternate routes to the campus to lessen the congestion on University Drive.

UTPA should actively seek opportunities to purchase off-site real estate for the development of parking in the future and should assess the viability of parking garage development. Parking garages are expensive relative to surface parking (a garage space costs about $6,000 to $8,000 versus about $1,700 per surface parking space), but there may be opportunities to interest private concerns in garage development and operation.

UTPA should develop a "staggered" parking rate structure based on proximity to main buildings to allow low-cost parking to continue to be available in the future. Based on a review of the parking fees at other campuses in the state, both have very reasonable fees at present.

UTPA should redevelop "front door" access points to improve safety and create focal points. Neither campus has sidewalks along the front which could improve pedestrian and bike safety. At UTPA, a marked pedestrian crossing with a traffic light should be installed on University Drive. The study team believes that this approach rather than an overhead crosswalk is desirable both from a cost and use perspective. Overhead crosswalks are very expensive and tend to only be used when fencing prohibits other paths for crossing.