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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Campus

COAST Program explained: Cheaper ways to get to campus


University of Houston East Parking Garage seen during the day.

East Garage as seen during the day. Students can return their garage passes for a prorated refund. | File Photo/The Cougar

There is only enough room for 9,000 students to live on campus. The rest of UH students have to either commute or take online classes, and there isn’t enough parking for everyone to be on campus at once. COAST is one option available to students trying to save money on their commute.

Parking and Transportation Services offers the Coogs On Alternative and Sustainable Transportation, or COAST, as one method to convince students to use means other than driving alone in their cars to campus. PTS lowers or subsidizes the cost of transportation if you choose to participate in COAST.

There are three options for students to use COAST: METRO, carpooling or renting a Zipcar. Joining COAST requires students to agree not to join any other subsidized program PTS offers.

The METRO program allows students to receive a Q-Card loaded with $27.50 every month. Students can use it to take the rail, bus or Park & Ride to and from campus everyday. PTS said in a video about COAST that the $27.50 is enough to go to and from campus on the rail or bus five days a week for an entire month. However, the video states it will only cover 25 to 50 percent of the cost in a month if you use the Park & Ride.

Students can receive a reduced permit cost if they agree to carpool to campus with others. Two students sharing a permit will receive a 25 percent discount, three students get a 50 percent discount and four students get a 75 percent discount off the regular price of a permit.

Students must be full-time, living off campus and come to UH at least three days a week to qualify for the carpool reduced permit cost.

It costs $15 a year to join the Zipcar program, according to PTS’s video about COAST. Students will receive free driving credits each semester for six hours and 40 minutes of driving the cars. It costs $7.50 an hour after running through the driving credits. Renting a Zipcar includes gas and insurance.

There are five Zipcars on campus: two at Cougar Village 1 and one each at Calhoun Lofts, Cougar Place and Bayou Oaks.

Director of PTS Bob Browand said in previous coverage of COAST by The Cougar that the program had 2,825 participants in the fall semester, opening up 1,500 parking spots for others to use.

“We are sensitive to the cost of higher education, and that is why we are proud to offer COAST as a low- or no-cost option for students seeking a more economical option for commuting,” Browand said in October. “COAST helps our department ensure that the cost of transportation should never be a factor in a student’s pursuit of higher education.”

Students who wish to participate in COAST and already have a parking permit can return theirs for a prorated refund.

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