Humphrey students work to match riders and drivers

Britt Johnsen

With a possible bus strike that could occur as early as March 2, at least one student group is thinking of ways to help people get to the University.

Students at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs are devising a plan to match riders with drivers from similar areas. University riders include 14,000 U-Pass holders and 1,500 Metropass holders.

Bob Gibbons, Metro Transit spokesman, said approximately 145,200 of the 220,000 people it serves each weekday have cars.

There are 20,000 parking spaces University wide, said Lori Ann Vicich, marketing manager for Parking and Transportation Services. She said during special events, there can be as many as 80,000 people on campus at one time.

Though not all of those people will be present at the same time, she said the parking situation will be impacted if a strike occurs.

The Humphrey Institute’s Public Affairs Student Association held a public forum yesterday to discuss the transit problems and opportunities that face the institute.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” said Scott McMahon, president of the association.

McMahon said the Humphrey Institute has approximately 600 people including staff, faculty and students, many of whom depend on buses.

McMahon said he sent an e-mail Monday asking people to share their contact information and whether they drive or ride to school, and where they are coming from and going to.

He also said the group will send a follow-up e-mail today with links to the Metropolitan Council and Parking and Transportation Services’ Web sites so everyone has information about their options.

Vicich said practices such as this are positive and will encourage people to discuss how to alleviate a potentially daunting

situation.

“As more and more people get the word out, they will start to talk about it,” she said.

The possible strike is a repercussion of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 and Metropolitan Council discussions. While the union is pushing for better wages and health care than the council has offered for a new contract, council Chairman Peter Bell has said there is no additional money to offer.

This would be the first strike since 1995, when no service was offered for 21 days, Gibbons said.