Amid soaring gas prices and parking woes on campus, university students looking for a way out have begun to embrace public transportation as a way to commute to campus, opting for either a ride on the METRO bus or joining a car pool to get to class.
According to METRO, the company charges between $3 and $4.50 each way for transportation from places like Katy, Cypress, Kingwood and the Westpark area to downtown.
The trips, which include a number of bus transfers, can sometimes take as long as two hours.
The METRO website also reported that more than 300,000 people use the company’s services each day, providing riders with guides and tips to ensure their safety.
“I have ridden METRO since I got here, from school to my home and other places such as bars,” Christian Martinez, a journalism junior said. “I have taken the METRO at 2 a.m. and got home safe.
“I don’t even remember being talked to on the bus — METRO is a safe ride.”
Another form of public transportation that students often use is carpooling, a method that, according to the 2011 U.S. Census report, nearly 10 percent of the workforce uses to get to work.
To help push more students to carpool, the University started the University of Houston Commuter Club, which has partnered with METRO to help those interested in starting or joining a campus van pool or car pool.
“We want to encourage more people to join van pools and car pools,” said Marcus Stewart, a customer service representative for UH Parking and Transportation Services.
“We monitor them so that everyone who wants to join or start one has a spot.”
A search tool on the club website for available van or carpools is forthcoming, but for now, the only way to locate and join one is through a supervisor at UH Parking and Transportation Services.
Students, faculty and staff must meet eligibility requirements before they can join the club.
The UH website states that potential members “must be an active full-time faculty or staff member of the University of Houston main campus, use an alternative transportation option for the duration of your membership, must not be an evening or night-shift employee and you do not buy a parking permit (except for 1-day temporary permits) for the duration of your membership.”
METRO provides the vehicles and there is no charge to join. After eligibility requirements are met, the cost of gas is divided up among the number of passengers. Added benefits include reserved parking spaces, complimentary daily parking permits and METRO Ride sponsoring, in which UH Parking and Transportation Services will pay 25 percent of your fare to get to UH.
For more information about METRO-sponsored carpooling contact UH Parking and Transportation Services at 713-743-1097 or http://www.uh.edu/pts/CommuteClub/commute.htm
For more information about METRO bus services contact 713-635-4000 or www.ridemetro.org