Campus congestion alleviated by carpooling, bus commutes

by Fabiana Torreao

Serving an average of nearly 80,000 people daily, University Parking and Transportation Services offer students a number of options to ease their commute to campus.
Although providing nearly 18,500 parking spaces, the department is committed to reducing congestion and easing accessibility by reducing the number of vehicles on campus.
Students are encouraged to bike or take the bus to school.
For those who choose to take the bus, Metro Transit has more than 30 routes serving the University, such as route 52, which consists of semi-express bus routes between the University and various residential areas; and route 6, which connects St. Paul to Dinkytown.
Working with Metro Transit, the University also offers students the U-Pass, a program beginning fall semester. The U-Pass is designed to give students unlimited rides on city buses for a discounted user fee of $50 per semester.
Once on campus, students have access to the Campus Shuttle System, which consists of five on-campus bus routes: the Campus Connectors, circulators, Washington Avenue Bridge Circulator, campus express and paratransit.
The Campus Connector, an express shuttle between the St. Paul campus, East Bank and West Bank, runs Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Varying according to the time of day and academic year, on average, the connector runs every five to 30 minutes.
The Campus Circulators go around the St. Paul campus and East bank. The circulators’ mini-buses operate Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., about every 10 to 15 minutes. The circulators do not operate during vacations.
Connecting the East Bank to the West Bank, the Washington Avenue Bridge Circulator also does not operate during vacations. During the semester, it runs Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., every seven to 15 minutes depending on the time of day.
For those who need to get around the St. Paul campus, East Bank and West Bank during last evenings and weekends, the Campus Express operates every 40 minutes between 10:20 p.m. and 1 a.m. Monday through Friday. It has extended hours on the weekends operating throughout the day. The Campus Express does not operate during vacations.
Finally, the campus shuttle system also offers a curb-to-curb service to people with temporary or permanent disabilities. Paratransit services are available Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The service does not operate during vacation periods. Students can call (612) 618-0318 to schedule a pick-up and reservations can be made up to two days in advance.
For those who choose to bike to campus, a number of bike routes are available, although biking on campus sidewalks is not permitted.
In addition, all Campus Connectors, Campus Express and the Washington Avenue Bridge Circulators have bicycle racks.
For students who choose to drive to campus, there are a number of parking alternatives.
However, as it is at any university in a metropolitan area, parking at the University can be a nightmare.
Parking and Transportation Services offers more than 100 parking lots, ramps and garages available to students on hourly rates, daily rates or semester contracts.
Daily-rate parking lots are generally more expensive and add up quickly. The Washington Avenue Ramp and Church Street Garage are two of the 12 lots, ramps and garages with an hourly rate of $1.75. The maximum rate per 24-hour period, however, is $14.
Students can find hourly parking on all three campuses (St. Paul, East and West banks).
The Huron Boulevard parking lots and some lots on the St. Paul campus have flat daily rates of $2.50 or $3.50, depending on the lot.
One of the cheapest alternatives for students driving to campus is to carpool. With two or more people in the car, students can use the carpool lots on the St. Paul campus and the East and West banks. In general, carpool rates are $1.25 daily.
Another alternative for commuting students is to buy a semesterly contract. Prices vary according to the parking lot, ramp or garage. Contracts are sold on a lottery basis. Applications for the fall semester lottery will be accepted between July 10 and 19.

Fabiana Torreao welcomes comments at [email protected]