Transportation fair offers information

by Jason Juno

University student Bebe Phommasak drives to her classes from St. Michael, Minn., but said she wants to start taking the bus.

For students like Phommasak, the University’s annual Transportation Fair at Coffman Union provided information about transit options.

For some attendees, it was a learning experience. For others, it was a refresher.

Phommasak said parking has not been a problem for her, but she has heard lots are usually full by 9 a.m. However, she is skeptical about the price of parking, she said.

Jacqueline Brudlos, communication coordinator for Parking and Transportation Services, said her office wants students to get around in ways other than driving alone.

Bicycling, riding the bus, walking and car pooling are cheaper transportation options, Brudlos said.

If students choose to drive, she said they should go to the Huron Boulevard ramp or the fairgrounds area in St. Paul. Each costs $3.25 per day for single-occupancy vehicles, and carpooling costs $2 per day. She said the Huron Boulevard ramp fills up between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., while other ramps charge rates of up to $12 per day.

With any option, Brudlos said students should “plan ahead and get here early.”

Other transit information at the fair included how to get around the metro area.

Junior Julie Huyek, who lives on campus, said she was happy to learn how to get around downtown and to the Mall of America.

She said the fair provided the help she needed. She liked asking people questions outside better than looking it up on the Internet, she said.

“I think it was great for what I needed,” Huyek said.

Brudlos said an estimated 3,000 people had stopped by the fair before noon.

“We invited a wide variety of people from the bus providers in the Twin Cities to the city of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation,” she said.

The fair was a first for transit officials in Anoka County, Brudlos said.

Northstar Commuter Rail Line, a proposed train line from downtown Minneapolis to Big Lake, Minn., would help students who commute to the University, said Tim Kirchoff, supervisor of transit operations for Anoka County.

The line would help students and other riders speed up the commute, he said.

According to numbers he displayed, the 55-minute bus trip would be knocked down to 35 with rail.

Kirchoff said Anoka County currently offers a bus service. Some students inquired about the bus service and about the rail line, he said.

However, the project remains in flux because some legislators do not believe it is cost- effective. It looks to be a topic for the 2005 State Legislature after Gov. Tim Pawlenty resurrected it earlier this year.

Other information at the fair included plowing times in Minneapolis, U-Pass information and tips if something is stolen from your car.