As the pandemic and online and remote course delivery pose new questions for students about fall parking passes and public transportation, Transportation Services and the Denton County Transportation Authority are working to provide answers.
Integrated studies senior Marisela Zubia said she is still unsure whether she will buy a parking pass since she may be on campus less than previous semesters due to the changes in course delivery.
Zubia said she has considered parking near campus and risking the possibility of not finding a free spot rather than pay for a commuter parking permit.
“As students in a pandemic, we do not have the funds to afford a parking pass when we can’t even pay rent,” Zubia said.
George Stieren, the Senior Communications Specialist for Transportation Services, said he wanted commuters to know parking passes are prorated for the year — meaning the price of the pass decreases as the semester goes on — and it may make more financial sense for some people to get the 2020-2021 pass later in the school year.
For some commuters, like Zubia, who are only going to be on campus once or twice a week, Stieren said it may be cheaper to purchase the $5 day pass each time they are on campus instead.
Additional services, such as E-ride and the 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. Lyft, will remain the same and are unlikely to be cut even with reduced use, Stieren said.
“While we are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., we encourage members of the UNT community to use our online services whenever possible in order to maintain social distancing in our lobby,” Stieren said. “We are available at 940-565-3020 to answer any questions and help students, faculty or staff figure out the best parking and transportation options for their individual needs.”
Pre-medical junior Areli Sanchez utilizes public transportation to get to campus and said she has concerns about how it will work in the fall.
“I honestly haven’t heard anything from anyone,” pre-medical junior Areli Sanchez said. “Not UNT, or friends or even social media. I was wondering these past couple of days about how transportation was going to work since I haven’t heard anything on the matter.”
George Stieren said he recognized the difficulties students have had in receiving information and he has actively been working on increasing the number of posts on the @UNTtransit Twitter account and Transporation Services’ other social media accounts.
Denton County Transportation Authority, who runs the UNT shuttle service, gave the North Texas Daily an overview of how transportation will be different this fall. Communications Coordinator Kayla Laird confirmed several changes to the shuttle routes and procedures.
DCTA will require passengers to wear face coverings to board the shuttles. DCTA reserves the right to deny service to passengers not wearing a mask.
The Mean Green “Contra” bus was cut because of a decrease in riders.
“The Contra route ran the reverse direction of the standard Mean Green route,” Laird said. “The standard Mean Green and Mean Green Night Rider routes will stay in place.”
No new cuts will be made to routes during the semester, as the service levels and budget are decided in partnership with the university prior to the start of the season. Several routes were also changed to reflect current ridership.
“UNT campus shuttle routes were streamlined across the board to address UNT’s heavy ridership needs during peak time in the morning and decreased ridership in the afternoons,” Laird said. “The morning schedules maintain last school years’ service levels.”
There are also three new additions to campus routes, including:
- The addition of an express bus that will operate from Victory Hall to the Union.
- The addition of an express bus that will operate from Lot 20 to the Union.
- The addition of one midday peak vehicle for Discovery Park which will provide additional service from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
DCTA will be using medical-grade disinfectant to clean between routes but asks passengers to stay vigilant to protect themselves.
“This includes following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), staying home if you feel sick, wearing a mask and social distancing when on DCTA vehicles, washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth,” Laird said.
Additional information on safety precautions for riders is available on DCTA’s COVID-19 webpage.
Featured image: One of the changes to the campus shuttle system is the addition of three routes, this will allow for less crowding and students will be able to follow social distancing. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia