THE RECENT amendments to Jammie Shuttle routes and pick-up and drop-off points is just one of the many strategies being implemented by the Physical Planning Unit to improve access and transport to Upper Campus.
According to Geoff de Wet, Head of Physical Planning, future goals in those areas include creating a campus that places the needs of the pedestrian over those of the vehicle. This would entail shifting away from the car as the preferred mode of access to Upper Campus, and thus paving the way for a reliable and safe university transport system that is totally integrated with the metropolitan transport system.
â€œThese plans have been in the pipeline for sometime but we face problems with the taxi industry and the licensing that goes with it. Public transport authorities have quite a lot of trouble processing applications for routes and things like that,â€ he explained.
De Wet said that to alleviate the problem of parking on campus, students needed to be offered safe and reliable transport that would collect them, not only from Lower Campus, but also from surrounding neighbourhoods where student accommodation is dense.
â€œWe have about 5 000 students who live off-Campus and if we can collect and drop off those students it will be sustainable in the long run, rather than each one of those students driving three kilometres to Upper Campus,â€ he commented.
De Wet stressed that the parking problem on Campus had escalated this year, with more students disregarding the University's parking laws. â€œPeople are parking in gardens and on sidewalks, anywhere where there is space,â€ he added.
Though the University is struggling with issues around parking, De Wet says that they have managed to provide more parking bays for disabled drivers and visitors.
The Unit has also come under considerable pressure over the past couple of years to ensure that the physical Campus meets the needs of the growing influx of enrolments. According to De Wet the strain of increased enrolments is felt in classrooms, laboratories and computer laboratories.
Part of the problem stems from particular student behaviour. â€œStudent behaviour is such that if there is a first period lecture and a third period lecture allocated to one subject, they will attend the third period. This is when a venue is then packed beyond its capacity,â€ he elaborated.
De Wet indicates that although solutions were available, like sub-dividing a class so that lecturers are rotated, this initiative had only been taken up by the Faculty of Law.
However, he is hopeful that the University's new venue allocation software package, Syllabus Plus, which will have its first test run next semester, will help the institution manage its venue allocation with better efficiency.
Over the past few months the Unit has been installing extra seats in several of the lecture theatres. Phase two of this plan will kick in later this year when a further seven venues will receive extra seats. In addition, all lecture theatres are being furnished and refurbished, in some cases, with new teaching equipment.