Free UOW parking for those who car pool

The University of Wollongong has boosted the number of free parking spaces reserved for car poolers as part of a suite of measures to tackle the start-of-semester traffic problems.

Students and staff who arrive on campus in a car carrying three or more passengers can park for free in one of 400 reserved spaces in the P4 Western Car Park, an increase of 50 spaces since last year.

The move comes as UOW nears its target of cutting private transport arrivals to 55 per cent of the staff/student population by 2015.

According to university surveys, 11 per cent of UOW's daily commuters have switched from cars to public transport since 2007.

Now focus within UOW's transport team is increasingly on how to get more people using active modes of transport - such as riding a bike, or walking.

Between 3 and 6 per cent of the UOW population ride a bike to campus.

Transport projects senior manager Tom Hunt believed this was where the greatest gains could lie when it came to easing traffic congestion in and around campus.

"The opportunity is enormous, when you consider that half of the people coming to university come from within five kilometres," he said.

Already, bike racks on campus have been increased to between 700 and 800 and paths have been made bike-friendly. There are also bike lockers and showers available for people who would build up a sweat on the ride in.

"But one of the real stumbling blocks is we don't have really good cycleways around the university and across the middle of Wollongong," Mr Hunt said.

"That discourages [people from riding], so we're working with council to try and improve access."

UOW is also continuing talks with Transport for NSW over changes to the rail timetable in a bid to make public transport a more attractive option.

Changes to the timetable introduced late last year have jarred with UOW's scheduling.

"The trains going back to Sydney in the afternoons leave at 37 past the hour, and it doesn't give enough time for people to finish their lecture on the half-hour and get to the train," Mr Hunt said.

Camden's Joel Berrell, who drove with three friends to UOW yesterday, said the offer of free parking had made car pooling an attractive option.

"Parking is too expensive otherwise," he said.

"It's $5 for a couple of hours. It's a cost that adds up when you come three or four days a week."

UOW provides an online car pool-matching service to match would-be car poolers with others in their area.

Next week - when tutorials begin - is typically the most congested week at UOW.

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