Regular Unitrans commuters can expect to see a new, modernized Memorial Union (MU) terminal come fall of 2014, following construction and renovation due to start in the spring.
Senior project manager Kurt Wengler invited attendees of an informational meeting to voice their opinions and concerns about the project on Oct. 30.
Plans to renovate stem from a concern for safety and sustainability. Unitrans General Manager Anthony Palmere explained that the current terminal’s layout often leads commuters to step off the bus directly onto the street — which is a hazard due to cars, bikes and other buses.
The new plan maximizes safety and utility by reversing the flow of traffic to allow riders to exit safely onto a sidewalk, creating three additional spots for buses and adding a new visitor drop-off.
Private vehicles will no longer be allowed on the terminal itself, and instead will be forced to turn onto the drop-off zone on Tennis Court Lane.
Wengler explained that the terminal will be paved with concrete to accommodate the large weight and heavy traffic from the Unitrans buses.
A pedestrian corridor through the terminal will also be added from the MU to the North Entry parking structure, a component of an upcoming project called the MU Gateway Plan which will create a walkway from Russell Boulevard through Howard Way to the MU.
Wengler expects construction to begin in April 2014, adding that the terminal will be closed off during the summer sessions. Additionally, Ramirez said that construction in Spring Quarter will likely consist of preliminary work, and will not necessitate closing off the terminal.
Vivian Jiang and Sylvia Dinh, first-year students who live in the Cuarto residence halls, both expressed concerns about the terminal’s current layout. Unlike most UC Davis students, neither Dinh nor Jiang own bikes; they take Unitrans every day to get to and from their classes.
“There’s a lot of people walking around where the buses are supposed to park,” Jiang said. “I have felt like I was close to being run over several times.”
Dinh expressed similar concerns about the terminal.
“It’s good that they’re adding more spots for the buses,” Dinh said, explaining that congestion at the terminal sometimes prolongs the wait at the drop-off. “What if I need to get to my class early?”
To accommodate commuters, lines that run through the same stops but end at the Silo instead of the MU terminal will likely see more service.
For example, those who take the heavily used G Line will likely have to take the J Line to the Silo, which runs through the same stops as the G route. However, Palmere explained that they are still figuring out the details to reduce inconvenience during construction.
The project may include a reconstruction of Howard Way. If so, traffic will be controlled and one-way traffic running through Howard Way will likely occur.
Those who need access to the parking garage need not worry, as the project will ensure that there will always be a way to enter and exit the parking structure.
Wengler expects the new terminal to be open and operational prior to Fall Quarter for next year.
In the long run, Unitrans hopes to save money on future maintenance on the terminal and on Howard Way.
The current plans are also in the preliminary stages.
“These are subject to change, because the project is currently in the planning phase,” said Eddie Ramirez, Unitrans operations manager.