September 21, 2007

S.A. Takes on Transportation Topic

Print More

The Student Assembly announced the induction of newly elected Freshman Representatives Samantha Dong ’11, Asa Craig ’11 and Rebecca Smith ’11, Transfer Representative Rebecca Stein ’10 and new member Andrew Wang ’08.
“We are looking forward to working with the new freshman and transfer representatives, and are confident that those who voted made the right decision, and look forward to working with them for the rest of the year,” said S.A. President Elan Greenberg ’08.
Yet the meeting’s main focus was a new set of transportation initiatives as presented by David Lieb ’89, assistant director for public information at Transportation and Mail Services.
From freshmen living in college town to forced doubles and triples on North Campus, the growing population of Cornell’s community has become highly apparent. The increasing burden on public transportation, a salient concern for any student, faculty member or employee here at Cornell, has sparked a renewed effort at improvement of transportation services.
Lieb described proposed upgrades in the local public transportation systems. Endorsing what he called Cornell’s “commitment to sustainability,” Lieb outlined Ten Year Transportation Impact Mitigation Strategies designed to alleviate the harmful impact of commuters on campus, in the peripheral community, and on the environment.
“We need to move more people using fewer vehicles,” he said.
According to Lieb, potential improvements on and off campus include peripheral parking lots along the fringes of Ithaca’s urban core, general improvements to an already vast pedestrian network and an increase in the number of sidewalks. Other aspects of TIMS involve the creating of better “links” between the pedestrian and TCAT bus service and the creation of multi-use trails.
One aspect Lieb stressed more than others was plans to facilitate cycling around campus, including education for cyclist’s rights and responsibilities and innovative steps which allow easy bicycle transport, saying that “the ultimate goal is to get people, not cars, to campus.”
Lieb assured concerned Assembly members that there would be no extraneous costs to the undergraduate population. Other concerns voiced by the Assembly included the emissions of TCAT buses and the fading of sidewalk markings and bike path signs, both of which, according to Lieb, would be addressed.
He further mentioned that TCAT has recently purchased some hybrid buses and is considering switching from diesel fuel to Biofuel.
According to a survey conducted by Transportation Services, 45 percent of Cornell employees do not drive alone, compared to a national average of 25 percent. Of these employees, 25 percent reside outside Tompkins county, 40 percent reside outside Ithaca Township, 20 percent reside outside Ithaca city limits and 15 percent live inside the city of Ithaca. In order to come to campus, 12 percent ride a bike or walk and 14 percent use public transit.
Thus, the study concluded, a significant majority of employees commutes to campus.
Lieb will present such data and the TIMS outline at the University Neighborhood Council on the night of Tuesday Sept. 25.
The TIMS is a part of the transportation-focused Generic Environmental Impact Statement (t-GEIS).
According to the t-GEIS website, the statement’s aim is to “identify, examine and evaluate the transportation-related impacts on the surrounding community of hypothetical population growth at Cornell University over the next ten years.” The statement is currently under review.
The Student Assembly was very responsive to Lieb’s presentation and Greenberg expressed his support for the transportation initiatives.
“We are here to offer our input and support as needed by transportation services,” Greenberg said.
Issues involving the allocation of the 2008-2010 Student Activity Fee were also discussed, and the Cornell Women’s Resource Center, the Community Partnership Board and the Wilderness Reflection Group were all granted money by the voting members.