Transportation unit expected

Josh Buckman

estern officials are hoping a new department will steer transportation in the right direction.

A proposed parking and transportation department would operate parking, transportation and shuttle services if it is approved by the Board of Regents in October.

Campus police currently manages parking services and Facilities Management runs the shuttle service. Both operations are coordinated by the Parking and Transportation Committee.

Under the proposal, the Parking and Transportation Committee’s role would shift from management to advisory.

“Our ultimate goal is to be more efficient and to be more responsible to the students and faculty,” said John Osborne, vice president of campus services and facilities.

Several schools have departments that oversee transportation and parking, Osborne said. Administrators learned of the facilities at a national transportation conference. The proposal was made last semester.

“This is a trend that has been going on for quite some time,” Osborne said.

Money from parking tickets and parking permit purchases will fund the new department, he said.

Western’s first director of parking and transportation, Jennifer Tougas, would head the department.

Tougas, who was appointed in July, came to the Hill after working for the University of Georgia’s transportation department for the past six years.

“She’s going to be a tremendous asset for the university,” Osborne said. “Her experience at the University of Georgia at Athens will bring so much to our campus.”

Tougas’ duties will include managing the department’s finances and supervising a staff, which will mostly consist of parking enforcement officials.

“I’ll be spending a lot of time on campus inspecting parking facilities, handling parking monitors and talking with student organizations on how to improve the parking services,” Tougas said.

Tougas will also oversee an update to the shuttle system this spring. Western received $2.5 million from a federal grant to replace old shuttle equipment.

Tougas said students will probably only notice some parking rearrangements on campus this year.

Osborne said no more money will be added to the budget for the new department. He said existing parking and transportation money will be transferred to the new department.

Administrators will use evaluations and suggestions from Tougas and other officials to determine whether or not staff and budget increases are needed in the future, Osborne said.

There will be a study conducted by the Parking and Transportation Committee to help decide what services the new department should provide in the future.

Though it could be years away, the new department might provide a towing service on campus.

Reach Josh Buckman at [email protected]