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Friday, September 25, 2020

Campus

Cougar Line shuttles offer ‘convenient,’ more efficient transportation at UH


The shuttle tracking is offered through the Cougar Trax GPS system and accessible through the UH Go app. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The shuttle tracking is offered through the Cougar Trax GPS system and accessible through the UH Go app. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The UH Cougar Line shuttles get students to and from parking lots, remote campus or off-campus apartment complexes, and the cost to operate the program for the 2020 fiscal year is $2.3 million, according to UH Parking and Transportation Services.

The shuttle program offers real-time tracking and runs to and from Remote Campus, Zone E (including stops at Cullen and Cambridge Oaks), Zone D (Bayou Oaks) and to Sugar Land. Monday through Friday, at least two shuttles from each line can be seen making their way around campus. 

“I think the University should continue to spend money on the shuttles because they’re easy to use once you figure out the routes, and they’re a convenient way to get to campus,” said kinesiology junior Christen Gutierrez.

The Cougar Ride late-night shuttle service cost $197,000 to run during the 2020 fiscal year. Richard Zagrzecki, department outreach manager of UH Parking and Transportation Services, said the shuttles help add to campus safety.

“By freeing up UHPD to concentrate on other campus safety initiatives, the Cougar Ride service contributes to the co-producer of safety initiative at UH,” Richard Zagrzecki said.

The shuttle tracking is offered through the Cougar Trax GPS system and accessible through the UH Go app. The app can also tell you how many minutes away from a particular stop the shuttle is. 

On days with cold weather or rain, some students said they appreciate the tracker because it allows them to see exactly where the shuttle is, so they can wait inside until the shuttle is at their stop. 

The Sugar Land shuttles cost an additional $408,000 for the 2020 fiscal year. Nutrition junior Julian Chen uses this shuttle because although he lives on campus, his home is in Sugar Land.

“Sometimes I use the Circulator because it’s convenient for getting around campus,” said Chen. “Sometimes I ride the bus to ERP with my friends so I can walk them to their cars because Remote Campus is dimly lit.” 

There are also four Zone Circulator shuttles that run around all parking zones, with buses operating both clockwise and counterclockwise. 

The cost of operating and maintaining these shuttles is one of the factors that determine the cost of parking passes, according to Parking and Transportation Services. For the 2019-2020 school year, the resident annual zone parking pass was $610. The resident annual garage passes were $965.

Some students say the cost of the program is justified because of the shuttle program’s benefits. Others say they‘d like to see some improvements to the system or are unfamiliar with how it works.

Some students said they think funding for the shuttles could be spent more efficiently since high traffic areas like PGH and the Student Center can sometimes cause delays. 

“I believe that the shuttles are important for students to get to class on time, but if the school put that money towards building a more efficient transportation system rather than manipulating this outdated one, we could enjoy lower costs for tuition and parking,” said biology senior Yasir Syed. 

“I would invest into discovering more efficient routes to move the most kids as fast as possible.”

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