Berkeley - Faculty and staff members who carpool to work at the University of California, Berkeley, soon will find themselves in the same rarified realm as the campus's esteemed Nobel Prize winners, at least when it comes to parking at UC Berkeley.
One of several new campus programs designed to encourage more carpooling and transit use will guarantee free, reserved parking spaces for three-person carpool commuters. A special, reserved campus parking space is among the highly coveted benefits at UC Berkeley of winning a Nobel Prize.
Surveys conducted in spring 2001 show that 51 percent of all UC Berkeley faculty and staff members and 89 percent of students already find alternatives to driving alone to campus. But campus officials hope to make public transit use even more appealing, convenient and less expensive through an assortment of improved services.
A few of the changes that take effect July 1 include:
* More pre-tax transit options through as many as 20 different transit ticket packages available, as well as through customized combinations. Now, the program features just seven transit ticket combinations.
* The opportunity for faculty and staff members participating in programs that UC Berkeley links with - for carpools, transit subsidies, bicycling, vanpools and even for pedestrians - to buy up to 48 days of discount parking a year for days they need to drive alone, at a cost of $4 a day. The current limit is 16 days.
* More publicity about the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which provides commute alternative users up to six rides home each year in the event of a personal emergency. The service currently is available, but fewer than 100 of 12,000 eligible employees are enrolled.
* A pilot plan, currently in development, to provide a bicycle locker and shower program at the Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) for faculty, staff and students, the likelihood of a mid-year parking service in the RSF parking garage, and RSF locker or shower access. The program also may include valet bike parking at home football games and installation of a Web-camera in select campus areas to try to reduce bicycle thefts.
* Reduced rates for two-person carpool permits, so the charge is $19 a month for each carpooler using an "F" parking lot and $27 a month for each carpooler using a central campus lot. That compares to current rates of $29 per month for the F parking lots immediately adjacent to campus and $44 for central campus lots.
* Free, reserved carpool parking spaces in central campus or F parking lots for carpools serving three or more people, with a $36 annual transportation fee. Currently, carpools for three or more people require each person to pay $8 to $10 a month, plus the $36 annual fee. Central campus parking spaces are not available for these carpools.