It is no secret that parking and driving, around the University of Kentucky is to be avoided.
But, avoidance doesn't solve the problem for the 40,000-plus people who work and study at UK, so UK is working on a transportation master plan to create more choices for people who must be on campus.
Tuesday UK announced an important initiative that's grown out of that planning effort, a partnership with LexTran to allow all students, staff and faculty to flash their UK IDs and ride free on LexTran buses, beginning July 1.
LexTran figures the two routes that directly serve UK represent about 17 percent of the almost 5 million trips taken on the system each year. So, this effort — UK's paying LexTran $160,000 — will save a lot of UK people money: $1 a ride generally, $30 for a monthly pass; 80 cents for student rides, $50 for a semester pass. (It costs $34 a month to park on campus.)
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The goal, though, is not just to save people already riding the bus money, but to encourage more people to abandon their solo vehicles, reducing traffic and parking congestion on and around campus.
It's not just a laudable goal, it's an essential goal.
Better engineered roadways and more parking can relieve some pressure but history is clear that you can't build your way out of traffic and parking headaches.
A more appealing and enduring solution is to reduce single-car dependency by providing other ways to get around.
UK and the city of Lexington have made progress in accommodating people who walk or cycle to UK: more and better bike lanes and bike racks, safer crosswalks, free bikes in exchange for not getting a parking pass, etc. But for thousands who come to UK to work or study, the distance or other challenges make it hard to get there under their own steam.
UK plans to begin immediately promoting the free bus option on campus, and will include it in orientation for incoming freshmen. The partners are also sorting out how to track participation.
UK and LexTran deserve credit for developing this remarkably inexpensive venture that could yield tremendous dividends for the campus and the city.