Brian Favela, executive director of transportation and parking services, stands in the University's parking garage.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Q&A with Brian Favela
October 19, 2016Tweet
Brian Favela assumed his position as executive director of the newly combined transportation and parking services functions in February. He came to Binghamton from Texas, where he had been senior director of parking operations and transportation at the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest medical center with over 7.5 million visitors each year, in Houston.
Question: When you arrived, you noted your excitement to begin working for a premier institution that is growing. Since you started here, what has happened?
Answer: We created a strategic framework when I got here focused on what we’re going to accomplish in the next three years and focusing on the technology aspect of providing services. Sue Crane [director of parking services] has done a wonderful job with parking services, but it’s time to streamline processes and leverage technology in a manner than improves the customer experience for students, faculty and staff. Putting transportation and parking together has happened at the right time.
Q: What can the campus expect from use of technology moving forward?
A: We’re looking at new parking management systems that are fully integrated. Right now, none of our systems talk to each other so we’re looking for ones that allow us to talk to each other and figure out how to best improve our operations. Access is what we’re really trying to improve. As of now, drivers have to appeal citations in writing; there’s no reason we shouldn’t be doing that online. Just as for buying permits. That shouldn’t have to be done in person.
We’re also expecting to be using license plate recognition by next year. That’s going to save money because we won’t be purchasing and mailing permits. It won’t save labor, but it will allow us to allocate our budget somewhere else and to truly know our inventory and security measures. There are a lot of neat things we can do. Technology will provide us with data and the ability to pull reports quickly. At end of day, we just want to make it easier for everyone to access what they need.
Q: What does that really mean for drivers who are searching for a parking place?
A: We want to become a smart campus. In exploring technology, I would want to know as soon as I hit the campus where available parking is. I want to be able to identify that through campus-based technology so we’re looking at possibly demoing that. And for technology to help get to parking spaces quicker. We need to do a better job of communicating what is here on campus in terms of parking.
I know we can create some good transportation/parking plans so people can park on the fringes and use shuttles. I bet only about 20 percent of our customers know there is an app for the shuttles and that Off College Campus Transport (OCCT) does a good job maintaining levels of service. We can also work with Broome County Transit (BCT) to improve operations. We’re looking at some operational strategies, too – just whittling away at the wood. We’re not behind the curve, but as we continue to grow, we should have a plan.
Q: And how about the number of spaces on campus. Are there any specific plans for the campus to add more on-site parking?
A: Making more parking spaces available on campus as quickly as possible is at the top of the list right now. Discussions about where these spaces will be added and how fast we can create them is ongoing, and we hope to announce plans this semester.
Q: Is there anything else you see as urgent?
A: A transportation hub is at the highest level. It’s being looked at and some drawings are being developed to be presented to the Parking and Transportation Stakeholders Group [comprised of graduate and undergraduate students, off-campus and resident students, faculty, staff, union representatives and subject-matter experts].
A hub on a campus like this should be centralized, so not many people have to walk too far. Transportation theory says people won’t walk more than 500 yards to a stop. If they have to go further than that, they’ll choose another option, which is usually their own vehicle. If we reconfigure the current location, and only allow shuttles and buses in so buses can move more efficiently, we’ll create synergies between OCCT and BCT. That takes a lot of planning but it’s the right thing to do.
We need a transit hub. It will calm traffic from speeders and centralize services. The name of the game is to have people using shuttles and taking advantage of other services. For instance, we should do a better job of peppering our Zip cars throughout the community. People will bring fewer cars if Zip cars are nearby.
Q: You had mentioned a transportation management program. Can you explain further?
A: A transportation demand management program will help us come up with alternative transportation methods and help us promote them to get utilization up (Zip car utilization is good at 40 percent). We want to decrease the number of cars on campus by 20 percent, so it would create a program that will get us down to that. We’re also working on a walking app to incentivize people to start walking on campus and working with a grad student on the app to get people to park in the outlying parking areas. This will free up spaces around campus. It should be done in December.
We’re trying to do out of the box thinking. We need to be student-centered. I come from a customer service world where we always have “the spirit to serve.”
Q: So what do you really want to accomplish at Binghamton?
A: One of the students at the RA training asked me ‘What do you really want to do here?’ I want to create a good student experience here. [Vice President for Student Affairs] Brian Rose’s goal is to not be a necessary evil, but to be a necessary need or partner.
Q: What message do you want the campus to hear about what you’re trying to achieve?
A: I want the campus to be open to changes that will help improve this entire community’s experience. It’s more about the customer experience. How can we leverage technology to improve it? Everyone has a smartphone; let’s find out how to deliver services to them.