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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee will introduce a new transportation service in January 2003, Knoxville Area Transit and UT officials have announced.

The service known as “The T” is the first phase of a comprehensive transportation system to be expanded in the fall of 2003, UT Vice President for Operations Philip Scheurer said.

Part of the UT Master Plan to encourage pedestrian and transit alternatives on campus, The T: East-West route will connect the Ag Campus, residence halls along Andy Holt Avenue and the Hill, providing students, faculty, staff and campus visitors direct access to and from the heart of campus with bus service every five minutes during peak hours.

“We anticipate that The T: East-West will be a major component in the transportation network,” Scheuerer said. “Students can walk out of their dorms to Andy Holt Avenue, and a bus will be there every 5 minutes to transport them straight to the library, the University Center, or the Hill.”

To accommodate the East-West link, Andy Holt Avenue is scheduled to change from one-way westbound to two-way by spring semester, providing a direct route for residence hall students to and from the University Center and the Hill.

The T: East-West will replace the Orange Line Trolley, which now takes students from the University Center to residence halls. The trolley will be re-routed to run east and west along Cumberland Avenue, continuing to provide the fare-free downtown connection to the university.

A second route called The T: Late Nite will run through the heart of campus and to residence halls, but also into Ft. Sanders, serving Clement and Strong halls along White Avenue, Laurel Apartments and other parts of Ft. Sanders until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 3:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday evenings with service every 15 minutes or less.

Another component of service will be The T: Access, providing ADA service during the day and a direct, on-demand service evenings, called The T: Link.

T: Access and Link are similar to services now provided by the University Van Service, using the University-s Blue Phone system for the direct on-demand transport, and working with the University-s Office of Disability Services for ADA services.

KAT General Manager Mark Hairr said some transportation vehicles will be powered by alternative-fuel vehicles.

“The T will use propane-powered vehicles for those services which use smaller vehicles,” Hairr said. “KAT is also working presently with university officials toward additional alternative-fuel vehicles for use at the university in the future.”

Another part of the new transportation system is an off-street transfer center for on-campus and off-campus buses in the heart of campus.

“We want to continue to encourage students to use the transit service rather than driving to campus,” Scheurer said. “We hope that this off-street transfer point will provide a good location for our commuting students. We want to see our campus continue to become more pedestrian friendly, and having fewer cars on campus helps us achieve that.”