By Steve Kuhlmann
Published Sunday, October 30, 2016
While heavy traffic is unavoidable at every Aggie football game at Kyle Field, officials with the Texas A&M Transportation Service and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute have been hard at work making the experience as efficient as possible. With thousands of cars making their way around the campus on game weekends, Associate Vice President for Texas A&M Transportation Services Peter W. Lange said the system isn't quite perfect, but they hope to keep making improvements.
"It is definitely not a static plan," Lange said. "It wasn't perfect when we started running it three years ago, and it's not perfect today, but we just keep running it and keep refining it. ... It evolves every year as we make changes from game to game when we see things that aren't as good as they can be."
Using the Destination Aggieland app, street cameras for a real-time view and analyzing traffic data after each game or major event, A&M officials have been able to target pre- and post-game transportation issues in getting people to and from campus in an orderly fashion.
Timothy J. Lomax, a research and regents fellow in mobility analysis at TTI, said access to street cameras specifically has allowed the team to adapt to traffic concerns as they are forming.
"We can see bottlenecks developing, we can see where we're getting a longer line of traffic at one side of an intersection and we can change the signal timing from the traffic control center," Lomax said. "All of the monitoring elements allow us to be a lot more nimble than we used to be and that's really what we're trying to go for."
In addition to helping drivers keep moving on the roads, Lange said he likes giving fans options for how they want to get to and from the campus.
Lange said among those options, the availability of the university bus system is one example of how the plan works to provide alternatives on game day.
During the game against the University of Tennessee earlier this month, Lange said the bus system served more than 32,000 riders before and after the game, making use of nearly all of the 91 buses in the fleet.
As for parking in campus garages and lots, Lange said the university brings in an average of roughly $350,000 per game — about $175,000 of which he said is used to pay for expenses — including game-day personnel, the operation of buses and traffic control.
He said the remaining funds stay in the parking and transportation system.
More than anything else, Lomax said the collaboration between TTI, Transportation Services, the Cities of College Station and Bryan and the community is what he believes has made the biggest difference in organizing the transportation flow.
"We couldn't do most of what we do on the traffic side without those partnerships," Lomax said.
Lomax said the researchers at TTI appreciate the opportunity to participate in the transportation plan, giving them the opportunity to help bring their work out into the field.
"A lot of the time we do research and we don't get to put our expertise into action," Lomax said. "When you get 120,000 people all in one place and they all want to leave all at the same time, you get a chance to practice some of what you've researched."
While Lange said the changes implemented based on the transportation plan have made a difference in high-volume traffic times such as those surrounding football games, he said some of the lessons learned had a further impact.
"What not a lot of people notice is that lessons learned in football are now used every day," Lange said. "The things that we've done through cooperative efforts on game days are really starting to make a difference on a daily basis."
For more information about getting around Texas A&M for football games and other special events, check out the Destination Aggieland app or transport.tamu.edu.
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