Getting You to the U
Each year, the University of Utah has been able to serve more students and offer more services to our community, including summer camps, youth classes and workshops, arts and cultural events, public school field trips and health care. With this growth comes some challenges, and Commuter Services works hard to accommodate this while planning for the future.
You may have already noticed construction on one new parking garage in the business loop. The second garage, west of the Sutton Geology Building, will begin this fall. Both are scheduled for completion next year.
In addition to strategically improving parking options, Commuter Services is also working
closely with Salt Lake City and Utah Transit Authority to improve public transit to campus.
All faculty, staff and students already have free access to most UTA services. In fact, as an
incentive for taking public transportation, anyone who rides at least 10 times in a month will be
automatically entered in a drawing to win an iPad. We also recently partnered with UTA to
allow some athletic tickets to serve as fare, and we’re working to make things even better.
Each story in this special edition of FYI details different projects and their impacts. One story
highlights our efforts to design and implement a parking and transportation master plan, and
we’d love to have your feedback as we go through this process. Please take some time to
review this information so we can all be better prepared for our commutes this fall.
Director, Commuter Services
University of Utah
Getting to Campus 101
To accommodate the changing campus, many parking lots have new permit designations, and more lot reassignments may continue throughout the year. To help you keep track of the changes, visit this map often to know which lots accept which permits. Additionally, each issue of FYI has a Campus Construction Updates section that highlights the most recent and upcoming projects and their impacts on driving, walking or biking around campus.
This fall, be aware that several A, U and E lots have been reassigned. And with the construction of two new parking garages on the site of current surface lots, the campus has 1,200 fewer spots this year.
As always, faculty, staff and students have free access to most UTA services and are encouraged to use public transit whenever possible.
How to use mass transit:
Jumping on the UTA system and campus shuttles is easier than you may think. Here are a few quick steps you can take to ease the transition from driving every day.
- Check that your UCard is valid by stopping by the Commuter Services Office to verify that UTA service is activated. Your UCard is your access to the UTA system and must be tapped on and off to ensure your fare is covered. Campus shuttles run throughout campus and are free of charge without showing your UCard.
- To find the closest bus or train stop and pickup time, visit the Riding UTA webpage. To catch a campus shuttle, check the online shuttle tracker to find the right route and see exactly how far away the shuttle is.
- Prepare yourself. Bring a book, homework, headphones or simply relax while the driver does the rest. Dress for the weather so you are not uncomfortable.
Did you know?
- More than 9,500 people use their UCards to ride UTA daily.
- More than 43,000 people use the campus shuttle each week.
Two New Parking Garages
There are certain areas on campus that would benefit from more concentrated parking options. To address this, two new parking garages are under way.
Business Loop Garage
The business loop parking garage, which will be built on top of the current business loop parking lot, will be the first parking garage on main campus. The garage broke ground in mid-July and will be available for use near the end of April 2015. This garage will house 810 parking spaces that will be able to serve the needs of students, staff and faculty during the day and provide much-needed parking for events at the Huntsman Center and Rice-Eccles Stadium in the evenings and on weekends.
In addition to providing more parking spaces, the structure is built with a reinforced roof that allows it to also serve as a play field. The field will be lit for evening use and will have rails and nets around it.
Where to park during construction: In an effort to provide safe access to parking that has been displaced during this construction, students, staff and faculty who drive to campus are encouraged to park in the lot on the corner of Guardsman Way and 500 South. A new, free shuttle route will run between that lot and the business loop every 15 minutes.
Business Loop Garage at a glance:
- Approximately 810 stalls (net approximately 560 stalls).
- Play field on the roof.
- Scheduled for completion in April 2015, and the field will be ready for the fall 2015 school year.
- A new shuttle route will transport commuters from the lot on Guardsman Way to the business loop.
- Electric vehicle charging stations will be available at each level in the garage.
Northwest Parking Garage
The surface parking lot between the Sutton Geology and Naval Sciences buildings will soon become the home of the second parking garage on lower campus. This smaller parking garage will help provide more parking near Presidents Circle.
The garage will hold 310 parking stalls and will help with faculty and staff parking during the day as well as provide parking for the many special events that are housed in and around Presidents Circle in the evenings and on weekends.
Construction will start this fall and will be finished in time for school in August 2015.
Northwest Parking Garage at a glance:
- Approximately 310 stalls (net approximately 220 spaces).
- Scheduled for completion in August 2015.
- Electric vehicle charging stations will be available in the garage.
Goodbye Hang Tags
Commuter Services is moving to a digital parking permit system called license plate recognition. The technology has been adopted by numerous cities, universities and toll road operations and eliminates the need for parking hang tags by linking your parking permit to your license plate number.
By moving away from plastic tags, we will save 450 pounds of plastic every year, 650 pounds of paper and more than $20,000 per year—the cost and weight of all those permits.
Commuter Services has vehicles equipped with cameras that can read plates at speeds up to 150 mph—but we’ve asked our officers not to test the limits of the technology.
How to make the switch:
- Register your license plate online. You can have up to two vehicles registered at a given time, and you can change the license plate numbers online as often as needed.
- Make sure that your license plate is facing the driving lane—don’t back into a space unless there is a license plate on the front of your car.
- Once you’ve registered, keep your permit in your car until September (even if it is expired) as Commuter Services will be testing the new technology through August.
- Some permits, such as V permits and day passes, still need to be displayed from your rear view mirror.
If you have questions about our new virtual permits, visit our website.
First Football Game Alters Parking
The University of Utah will host Idaho State at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the first home game of the season on Thursday, Aug.28. The game is scheduled to kick off at 5:30 p.m. To prepare for the game, the west Stadium and Guardsman Way parking lots will be restricted. All are strongly encouraged to use UTA or other alternative forms of transportation on this day.
If you must drive to campus, parking will be available on two grass fields from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Football parking is not permitted in these fields.
In an effort to reduce traffic coming to campus for athletic events, the university and UTA partnered to provide public transportation to the U for most athletic events. Starting last fall, athletic tickets began to serve as fare for UTA FrontRunner, TRAX and buses on game days and will continue to do so this year. Ridership was estimated at nearly 10,000 riders per football game last year.
Business Loop Access Closed
The business loop will be closed to vehicles and limited to pedestrians through September.
The concurrent construction of a parking garage, work on the Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Basketball Training Facility and the renovation of the Huntsman Center has made travel through the loop tight, and additional utility work, requiring trenching and road excavation, will close the east side of the loop.
Pedestrian access will remain open in the area. Those coming into campus from the South Campus TRAX stop may be temporarily routed up to the Huntsman Center and into campus or down along South Campus Drive and into campus near the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.
To avoid these detours, please consider taking the Stadium TRAX stop or the Fort Douglas stop, which has two new accessible routes that lead toward the center of main campus. One route goes along the south side of the new Student Life Center and the other goes between the soccer field and the construction site for the new basketball facility.
The campus shuttles will drop off near the library when access is restricted in the business loop.
Don’t forget to use the Route U mobile app to help navigate around construction when on foot.
New, Free Shuttle Routes
A new shuttle route will be piloted this fall into the Harvard/Yale neighborhoods adjacent to the university. The new route, called Red Flyer, will run every 15 minutes between 7-10 a.m. and again in the afternoon between 3-6 p.m. An “emergency ride home” service will be available to people who miss the last shuttle or need a ride between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The shuttle will travel along 1500 East and 1900 East, connecting along 1700 South and will stop on campus in the business loop.
While the new business loop parking garage is under construction, alternative parking is available in the lot on the corner of Guardsman Way and 500 South. While this construction is under way, a shuttle route will run between that lot and the business loop every 15 minutes between 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
Commuter Master Plan
Earlier this year, Commuter Services, in partnership with Campus Planning, began a master planning process to assess current and future transportation, traffic and parking needs at the University of Utah. Traffic counts, parking lot usage and alternative transit data were collected last spring. The information gathered will be used to guide short and long-term plans that work in tandem with the goals of the Campus Master Plan.
A few of the objectives of the Parking and Transportation Master Plan include:
- Developing a campus transportation plan that focuses on sustainability, smart growth and land use and best management practices for all modes of transportation.
- Approaching the planning effort by reviewing and understanding regional mobility and multi-modal (pedestrian, bicycle, motorist, transit, parking, etc.) needs with the goal of reducing vehicular traffic, enhancing safety, ensuring clear and consistent wayfinding and creating a better overall campus mobility plan.
- Engaging stakeholders of the master plan, such as campus departments, university and research park employees, hospital staff, neighborhoods, community leaders, specialty groups and the public, for input and feedback at appropriate times.
As the master plan process progresses, there will be opportunities for community input from the campus, community neighbors and other transit-related organizations. Those opportunities will be shared in future issues of FYI. For more information on the Parking and Transportation Master Plan, contact David Moyes.