Proposed transit hub to improve bus service
The Board of Governors will be asked next week to approve construction of a new Saskatoon city transit hub this summer that would close Campus Drive in front of Place Riel and double the number of buses coming to campus.
Richard Florizone, Vice-President of Finance & Resources, says the proposal going to the Board Feb. 9 would allow the city to proceed with major changes it plans for transit routes throughout Saskatoon and would provide a number of benefits for U of S students, faculty, staff and visitors.
“This project will not only give people better access to campus from all parts of the city, it will also provide for safer, more efficient traffic flow near Place Riel, will likely reduce cars coming to campus thus easing traffic and the parking situation, and will give us the opportunity to improve the landscaping and attractiveness of that area over the longer term,” Florizone says.
He says consultation has taken place with the U of S Students’ Association, the residence students’ group and the Planning Committee of University Council. The committee that drafted the proposal going to the Board included staff from a number of administrative units such as Facilities Management Division, Campus Safety and Consumer Services.
The proposal calls for short-term and long-term projects and asks the Board to approve the short-term one now. It would see construction start in April to create the new transit hub in front of Place Riel, finishing by August with closure of that part of Campus Drive and start-up of the increased bus service. Earlier city estimates said the number of buses in the new hub at the peak morning hour would rise to 50 from the current 26.
The hub would have stopping spaces for nine buses. Access to the area would be restricted to transit, emergency and service vehicles. Entrance and exit for Parking Lot 1 in front of Place Riel would be moved. New drop-off zones will be created at both the west and east ends of the transit hub, for people dropping off and picking up students, faculty, staff or visitors.
Florizone says eliminating other traffic in this area will reduce congestion and create a safer, more functional transit hub – providing good access for people and cutting down on the potential for accidents between people, cars and buses that exists there now.
During the 18-36 months that the initial phase of the transit hub will operate, the University will develop a longer-term plan for the area, which could include a major new residence project adjacent to Place Riel, as well as improvements to the landscaping and aesthetics of the area. The area is being looked at as an alternative location for the major residence project that had been planned for the current green space along Cumberland Avenue between College Drive and 14th Street.
Florizone says the short-term project is an excellent chance for a trial closure of that portion of Campus Drive, and the longer-term plan will develop solutions, if any are needed, for issues like diesel fumes drifting into buildings from the buses, noise from the higher number of buses, and any safety and traffic-flow concerns at the intersection of Campus Drive and Wiggins Avenue.
He notes that the full cost of the short-term creation of the new transit hub will be paid by the city.