Debby Freed claimed her post as the transportation demand management coordinator last week, with hopes of educating people about alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles.
The Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee created the position last year to address traffic congestion and parking shortages on campus.
"It's a reality that as we continue to grow and develop, we have to rely on public transit and such things as park and ride," DPS Director Derek Poarch said.
Poarch said Freed was the perfect candidate for the position considering her past with UNC and her experience with campus transit.
Freed grew up in Chapel Hill and earned her undergraduate degree from the University in 1988. After 13 years away, she is coming back to UNC from her post as transportation demand manager at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
"I found educating people very rewarding," Freed said about her position at Virginia Tech, where she created a car pool program and an incentive program to encourage walking, bicycling and busing. "People love their cars. That is one of the obstacles to overcome."
Steve Mouras, transportation director for Virginia Tech and Freed's former boss, said Freed is a bright, talented person and that she'll be an asset to UNC.
Mouras also said Freed's biggest challenge in the new post will be to wean people off their cars. "If I was a freshman and had a BMW, I wouldn't want to walk or bike or ride a smelly bus," Mouras said. "I want to be in my Bimmer."
Freed said she intends to jump right into her position, first assessing the traffic needs and problems specific to UNC.
"It's quite an education process for me," she said. "I need to learn the needs of students, departments and the hospitals, as well as getting to know the people in the town."
The next step is to create a comprehensive, educational plan that will involve placing advertisements in journals and publications as well as creating posters, fliers and brochures, Freed said.
Freed also said she hopes to make direct contact with department heads and University employers, talking about such issues as offering flex time to alleviate rush-hour traffic on campus.
But Freed said one of the most intriguing aspects of her new position is the perspective she brings to it.
"It's amazing to see how much the town has changed and all the buildings that are going up," she said.
"Since I was here, traffic and congestion have gone up exponentially."
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