Monday, September 26, 2016

Getting out of Gridlock: Should UH Start Later?

Last week Jim Mendoza of Hawaii News Now developed the story Getting Out of Gridlock: Should UH start later?

Traffic planners believe if UH started school at 9 a.m. instead of 7:30, 5,000 cars could be eliminated from the morning rush.  Students don't balk at the idea. "I can see it possibly alleviating some traffic," Ioane Goodhue said.

But UH communications director Dan Meisenzahl said that many students who start at 9 a.m. or later come to campus early anyway to find parking and eliminating early classes wouldn't change that.

In other words, he provided a reason to not look further into this.  But his statement is wrong.

First of all, many of the students who do not have permits come very early, park and go back to sleep or study in their car. But they are only 20% of the traffic-to-town generated by the UH.

UH-Manoa, HCC and KCC, that is, UH's three main campuses inside Honolulu, have a combined parking capacity of over 10,000 stalls of which at least 8,000 are assigned to annual or semester permit holders consisting of faculty, staff, seniors and graduate students.

Say half of those 8,000+ cats come from places west (Ewa) of Kalihi Street. If most of them arrive during the 6:00 to 8:00 AM rush, then these cars need a whole freeway lane to themselves.

As a result, when the UH is not in session, this lane goes back to non-UH traffic and congestion levels are markedly lower.

Another important point is this scientific finding: "Scientists have found that current school and university start times are damaging the learning and health of students. Drawing on the latest sleep research, the authors conclude students start times should be 8:30 or later at age 10; 10:00 or later at 16; and 11:00 or later at 18."

An additional advantage is that if UH started at 9:30 AM, it would be easier for its professors and lecturers to offer late afternoon and evening classes that working people can take. Now most of the classes are over by 3:30 PM.

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