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Friday, October 20, 2017

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METRO extends free student rides through October


Metro

Houston METRO extended free rides for students through October due to Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath. | Nabil Ahsan/The Cougar

The Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority will extend free rides to students through the month of October in attempt to ease post-Harvey recovery efforts.

METRO decided to extend the free ride program another month based on the extensive need for help in Houston after Harvey, said Metro spokesperson Laura Whitley. According to the Houston Chronicle, Harvey’s effects likely ruined 500,000 vehicles in Texas.

“METRO is aware of the need in the Greater Houston community due to our involvement in the relief efforts,” Whitley said. “Since the very beginning of the storm, METRO has responded to calls for help from our community partners.”

Transportation will be free for pre-school through college students and parents escorting their children. High school and college students will be required to show a valid student ID, according to ABC13.

A regular non-student fare is $1.25, and the normal student price is 60 cents, according to the METRO website.

Robert Browand, director of UH Parking and Transportation Services, said that METRO made a good choice by deciding to extend this offer because many students are still dealing with the effects of Harvey.

UH and METRO collaborate frequently to facilitate transportation for students, Browand said.

This is convenient for commuter students like accounting junior Angella Rodriguez, who rides the bus Monday through Friday.

“I don’t have a car, so this is the best way for me to get home,” Rodriguez said.

It also serves as a chance for students to explore public transportation and potentially use it more in the future, Browand said. 

“Our hope is that some of the students trying out METRO this month decide to join our (Coogs on Alternative and Sustainable Transportation) program, so that they can continue to have all or most of the cost of their commute using METRO covered by UH Parking and Transportation,” Browand said.

As PTS’ most recent project, the COAST program was implemented in 2016. So far, 1,918 students have enrolled, Browand said, and PTS hopes to keep that number growing.

METRO representatives usually come to sustainability meetups, new student orientations and host events on campus to talk about their services, Browand said.

Students get free rides when UH or Texas Southern University host football games, and UH-Downtown provides a subsidy for students who forgo the parking pass, Whitley said.

Multiple bus routes and the METRO Light Rail Purple Line are accessible to UH, according to its website.

Although UH and METRO are already working closely, PTS is looking to expand the COAST program to those who would like to use the bus or rail and park on campus. Browand said his department plans to release this option later this year. 

“This is designed for those with a night class, lab or other commitment that keeps them on campus past METRO hours, so that they can still receive a financial incentive to use alternative transportation as much as possible,” Browand said.

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