The University of Manitoba has rolled out a new initiative school officials hope will drive more people to carpool to its Fort Garry campus.
The U of M’s parking services department, in collaboration with the university’s sustainability committee, has created 24 carpool-only parking spots in hopes of encouraging more environmentally friendly transportation practices.
As part of the initiative, 12 spots in each of the U of M’s two largest parking lots (Q and U) will be reserved for drivers who carpool. The parking services department plans to add more stalls to those two lots as well as others as the program expands.
Students who have parking permits for the two lots, and who have at least one passenger in their vehicles can park in the designated carpool spots, which are in prime locations at the front of the lots.
"We have quite a few people who carpool to campus. Our U lot (has) 970 stalls, so (it’s) a really big difference from the front to the back of the lot," said Cameron Neufeld, manager of parking services.
Parking services has already been offering a carpool parking permit for several years. This allows people to put multiple vehicles on one permit and share the permit amongst two or three different vehicles.
The department is hoping the program will encourage more people to carpool to school. It’s also hoping the initiative will be picked up by other schools in the city.
"It would be great to see (some carpool) spots downtown, and at other campuses," Neufeld said.
The carpool spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The university is not currently monitoring who is using the spots.
Neufeld said the university wants people to get acclimatized to the new initiative before they start enforcing any regulations.
"At current, it’s on the honours system, much like expectant mother parking at a shopping mall," he said.
Neufeld said the university plans to enforce the carpool-only regulations in the future by issuing $20 citations to those who do not comply with them. He said enforcement will happen sooner if school officials learn drivers are abusing the new policy.
Justin Paquin, the University of Manitoba Student Union’s vice-president internal, has been driving to campus for six years and said he is excited about the new program.
"It’s great to see the university is starting to… recognize students who carpool," he said.
"There’s a shortage of stalls and … it’s great to see some action being taken, and (that the university) is putting the emphasis on carpooling. It partners well with our environmental sustainability commitment."
Paquin, who is a recent graduate, works at the student union five days a week and often drives friends to campus. He expects the new initiative will be welcomed positively by students, but isn’t sure people will abide by the rules.
"I would question (if it’s going to work) without enforcement," Paquin said.
"It’s a good first step though."