COVID’s Effect on TDM Programs

university campus parking TDMBy Perry Eggleston, CAPP, DPA

With the COVID-19 crisis in full effect, I started to look at the post-crisis impact on traditional transportation demand planning. I work on a large university campus with an active TDM program that’s been successful in the reduction of the number of single-occupant vehicle (SOV) trips. However, how will the COVID-19 crisis fears change the community’s perception of safety in using multi-passenger modes like mass transit and carpools?

When classes return to campus, I believe there may be a significant increase in SOV trips as affiliates want to travel in environments they control. If this spike occurs, how will campuses deal with the sudden vehicle increases, which were effectively reduced in the past, and how long will this “temporary” spike last?

With those questions in mind, I am taking this downtime to consider countermeasures. Keeping in mind the affiliate’s safety concerns, the campus administration’s desire to provide campus access, and maintaining carbon reduction mandates, how will we address what may be only a relatively temporary situation?

With the assistance of an industry expert on parking demand shifts, we are taking a serious look at addressing these potential SOV spikes when classes return to campus. Solutions being discussed are parking permit sales caps, prohibiting additional categories of students from purchasing permits (first-year students are not allowed to buy a permit at present), to reassessing our permit structures to include a zonal component that moves more parkers out of the campus core to its extremities. I found the zonal suggestion interesting as I was looking to implement this in about three years, but I am amazed how a sudden circumstance change requires its consideration now.

Perry Eggleston, CAPP, DPA, is executive director of transportation services with the University of California Davis.