COUNCIL Year-End Reports on the April 26 Agenda

Report of the Committee on Facilities, 1999-2000

This report presents a summary of the work, conclusions and recommendations of the Committee during the 1999-2000 academic year. The report is structured in the sequence of the Committee Charges. Briefly stated, the charges, given by the Council, have been:

  1. Review the performance of Trammell Crow operations.
  2. Based on the previous year's work, finalize the recommendation to Council on the creation of a comprehensive Transportation Office with at least one qualified expert in transportation.
  3. Follow and cooperate with the University-wide Campus Development Planning process-the project led by the Olin Partnership.
  4. Consult with the Council Committee on Student Affairs on their work on living options and graduate activity space.
  5. Current problems related to facilities and operations should be handled as they appear.

1. Review of Trammell Crow Operations

As one of its charges for this year, the Facilities Committee has reviewed the conditions of the physical plant and Trammell Crow operations. Based on the discussions and many comments by the University people from different schools and buildings, including the faculty, researchers, personnel and students, presentations by the Trammell Crow and University administration representatives, the Committee reports the following findings.

Approximately two years ago the University contracted Trammell Crow to manage its physical plant, including Facilities Operations and Maintenance, Construction Management, and Real Estate Portfolio management. This outsourcing of previously internally organized functions was intended to achieve increased efficiency of operations by Trammell Crow, which is experienced in such tasks; at the same time, the University was expected to decrease its involvement in many complex operations related to its physical plant, including current operations, maintenance, construction and management of real estate.

Involvement of Trammell Crow has brought many changes and led to careful evaluations of the quality and efficiency of all these operations. While there were improvements in some areas, the challenges of restructuring a large organization of complex and unique facilities slowed down the changes and created problems in other areas. It appears that the extremely diversified facilities needs of the University represent a very complex task in which financial and human resources must be optimized to efficiently maintain the aging campus under the given budget constraints. As a result of this situation, the University has renegotiated its contract with Trammell Crow.

The Committee finds the decision of the University administration to review and reorganize these functions very appropriate. The renegotiations of the contract have resulted in the decision that the Operations and Maintenance functions be returned to the University, while Trammell Crow retains the Construction Management and Real Estate Portfolio functions. This is not a simple return to the status prior to the Trammell Crow contract, because of the major restructuring of the functions at that time and subsequent detailed analyses, evaluations and improvements of operations. This reorganization is expected to result in optimizing University's resource allocation to be more user-responsive for operations and management functions than was previously the case. While this organizational change is endorsed, the Committee is anxious to see a more detailed plan for the new structure of operations.

In summary, the Committee endorses the University's renegotiated contract with Trammell Crow which has redefined the domain and responsibilities of Trammell Crow, and is expected to stimulate the University to improve its operations and maintenance of facilities. The Committee is looking forward to a review of the implementation of these changes and evaluation of its results.

2. Reorganization of Transportation Functions in the Campus Area

There have been many activities concerning transportation and access in the campus area during this academic year. Major current developments and events included the following ones:

  • The Campus Development Planning project has been underway, intensifying discussions about the need to coordinate all modes of travel and improve human orientation in the campus area. To achieve this, the traditional focus on vehicular traffic and supply of parking should be broadened to all modes. To create an attractive campus and more livable environment, travel by transit-SEPTA's buses, trolleys, subway and regional rail-by bicycles (with greatly improved discipline), as well as walking, should be encouraged by making these travel modes not only safe, but convenient, efficient and attractive.
  • Repaving, with new striping of vehicular and bicycle lanes, has been done on some streets (33rd Street) by the Streets Department, and it is planned for several other streets (Walnut and Spruce Streets).
  • There have been strong requests and some actions to handle the bicycle use as a system, rather than as incidental use of bicycles by some individuals. The City began implementation of a major network (about 450 km or 300 miles) of bike paths throughout the City, including the campus area.
  • Unsafe traffic conditions, particularly concerning bicycles and pedestrians, were highlighted by ultimate tragic events: deaths of two bicyclists in the core of the campus.
  • University submitted to the City requests for measures to increase safety and improve access to the University, such as pedestrian signals at all signalized intersections and elimination of right turns on red. Only a small portion of these has been implemented by the City so far.
  • The LUCY bus service (Loop Through University City) has been introduced and found great acceptance by the campus community.

In all these activities it was consistently found by this Committee that there is a lack of coordination in activities among the four bodies which handle different aspects of transportation and access:

  1. The Facilities Department
  2. Transportation and Parking Office
  3. Government and City Relations Office
  4. Public Safety Office.

It is a common phenomenon that each one of these offices makes contacts and attempts to cooperate with outside agencies, such as the City's Streets and Police Departments, SEPTA, University City District, City's Parking Authority and others. The requests made by different offices are usually not coordinated, and sometimes even mutually conflicting, leading the outside agencies to complain that the University should put its act together and then come to us.

In addition to the organizational problems, there has not been in existence a coordinated set of transportation policies. The need for a greater expertise in transportation, development and implementation of a coordinated, professionally developed policy has now become obvious and much better understood than before.

It is also clear that financing of transportation facilities has to be revised to reflect the need for this integrated approach to all transportation. Instead of separate funding for parking garages, for Penn Bus, and very little support for transit facilities, the University should provide and allocate adequate funds for the facilities and operations which will be defined in the Campus Development Plan. This funding must be based on the new policies, which are presently being prepared, that encourage use of transit and bicycles, make walking safe and attractive, and achieve "taming" of through traffic in the campus area without impeding its use of streets at controlled speeds. It is expected that the report of the Campus Development Plan will contain clear recommendations to this effect.

Consequently, the Committee finds that there is an immediate need to correct this situation and prepare for a more efficient handling of all modes of transportation and access by undertaking two actions:

1. Set up a Transportation System Office (or Transportation Coordination Office) that will be in charge of coordinating all transportation modes and functions in the campus area. Its major duties should be:

a. Develop and implement a transportation policy, including:

  • Street network with vehicular and pedestrian traffic
  • Internal campus pedestrian ways, areas and roadways;
  • Public transportation--SEPTA, Penn's services, taxis and other modes;
  • Parking: on- and off-street: policies, regulations and fees;
  • Bicycle network, facilities and operations;
  • Pedestrians: network of sidewalks, paths and crossings, areas and operations, emphasizing aspects of safety, efficiency and livability. Short- and long-range aspects must be considered and coordinated.

b. Coordinate current activities among all offices handling different aspects of transportation. Since individual functions will continue to be performed by several departments (e.g., Penn Bus and charter operations and parking by the Transportation and Parking Office, safety by the Public Safety Office), the Transportation System Office will coordinate these functions to make them mutually supporting and complying with an overall policy.

c. Handle all University's external contacts relating to transportation.

The need for this is quite obvious from the numerous problems which multiple uncoordinated external contacts have been creating until now.

While organizational details of the proposed Transportation System Office have not been included in the Committee's scope of work for this year, the Committee submits the following general thoughts and recommendations in that respect.

The main responsibilities of the proposed Transportation System Office should be focused on transportation policies and their relationship to the overall Campus Development Plan, as well as a number of other University functions. The office should therefore have an overall view of the present and future campus and University's needs. It is therefore logical that the office be closely related to, or a part of the Facilities Services Division, which is conducting the Campus Development Plan and is in charge of the campus infrastructure. As mentioned, further organizational details must be worked out.

2. Obtain professional expertise for the transportation system policy, planning and coordination functions. Transportation on the campus not only involves multi-million dollar investment and operations, but it actually shapes the form and quality of life on the campus. Development of policies and coordination of modes require considerable professional expertise and an operating office, rather than only an appointed committee or advisory body. Transportation System Office should therefore have expertise in the field of transportation planning and operations, including different modes, and be prepared to handle specific requirements of an urban, human-oriented instead of an automobile-based campus.

3. Cooperation with the Campus Development Planning Project

The Facilities Committee has worked closely with the Advisory Committee on Access and Transportation of Olin Partnership's team working on the Campus Development Plan. Several members of this committee, including Eugenie Birch, Omar Blaik, Robert Furniss, Titus Hewryk and Vukan Vuchic, cooperated actively with the project team in overall campus review and policy development, as well as in some design details. It is expected that the recommendations in this report will be in general agreement with those that the development project will present in regard to transportation.

Similarly, several members of this Committee, including Glenn Bryan, Titus Hewryk and Vukan Vuchic, have been members of President Rodin's Ad Hoc Committee established to address issues of bicycle safety. This has allowed coordination of efforts of this and the Ad Hoc Committee.

4. Graduate Student Activity Space

Based on a presentation of the Proposal for a Graduate Student Center at Penn and discussion of this plan, the Facilities Committee finds this proposal very thoroughly prepared and important to meet the present and projected future needs of graduate students. The Committee supports adoption of the plan for a Graduate Student Center at Penn.

5. New Business

In addition to the participation in the University President's Ad Hoc Committee of Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety, discussed under item 3 above, the issue of the towing of cars on the Penn campus was raised during the year.

The committee brought together people from the Campus Police, Facilities, Transportation and Parking, and the following plan was agreed upon. R & K Towing is to be asked to establish a logging system where they would note when a car is parked illegally. The driver is then to leave the car parked there; if after a half hour the car is still there, it may be towed. Robert Furniss of the Office of Transportation and Parking should make these arrangements with R & K Towing company.

--Vukan R. Vuchic, Chair


1999-2000 Committee on Facilities

Chair: Vukan R. Vuchic, systems engineering. Faculty: David L. Brownlee, history of art; Eugenie Birch, city & regional planning; Paul H. Edelstein, pathology/medicine; James M. Larkin, education; Anu Mathur, landscape architecture; John Sabini, psychology. Graduate/professional students: Kyle Farley (GAS '02). Undergraduates students: Meghan Sinnott (C '01); Mike Larsen (C '01). PPSA: Thomas McCoy, telecommunications; Laura Peller, environmental health & safety; Erin Wieand, facilities, medicine. A-3: Cheryl Shipman, Benjamin Franklin Scholars; Jean Marie Vance, admissions, medicine. Ex officio: Omar Blaik, vice president, facilities services; Glenn Bryan, director, community relations; Alice Nagle, coordinator, program for people with disabilities; Ronald Sanders, registrar.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 30, April 25, 2000

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