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‘UH does not care about us at all’: Sugar Land shuttle permits cause headache for carless Cougars

Commuters are now stuck in a dilemma because they have to find an affordable way of commuting to match their schedules or else drop their classes.|Robert De La Garza/ The Cougar

Last month, Parking and Transportation Services made the Sugar Land shuttle permits available for non-priority students. However, some students were surprised to find that there were no available passes. 

After emailing Parking and Transportation Services, students found that 99% of passes were sold out during the priority registration period.

There has been much frustration and confusion among students since this was an unexpected turn in their travel plans for the upcoming semester. 

“UH does not care about us at all, they are very clear about that. Making students pay over $200 for a decision they made is stupid and just unfair,” said junior computer information systems major, Precious Sowunmi.

Despite the intent and success of the priority registration, several “priority” students did not secure passes. Technology students believe they are slowly being displaced to the Sugar Land campus without properly informing them, and those who live on main campus feel helpless.

“They made this decision to move tech students to Sugar Land without even thinking about our well-being,” Sowunmi said. “If I knew they were going to move us to Sugar Land and this would be the transportation, I would have picked another school.”  

Students believe that the University is taking advantage of their situation rather than finding a sustainable solution to this problem.

“I am really angry and upset. I have screws in my neck,” said junior English major, Mina Arican. “How am I supposed to drive? I can’t drive, even if I want to because I have medical excuses!” 

While the students have an option to go on a waiting list, they are not confident about getting off after the recent email sent by the Parking and Transportation Services. 

“Being on the waiting list is not a guarantee that you will receive a permit,” the email read. “We do not expect there to be much — if any — availability for the spring.” 

With UH’s large commuter population, students feel administrators should provide transportation to all campus locations and add more buses. 

“The system would be ten times better with more buses,” Sowunmi said. “There is no way I could have paid for a pass at a price this high in the short time span they gave us.” 

Commuters are now stuck in a dilemma because they have to find an affordable way of commuting to match their schedules or consider dropping their classes.  

While the students are suffering from this situation and waiting to receive an email regarding the waiting list, students like Arican have received no solution or cooperation from the University.

“I really want to buy a pass, but they don’t let me,” Arican said. “They said they won’t make any exceptions even if you have medical records or reasons.”

However, the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee later advised her to contact Justin Dart, Jr. Student Accessibility Center which is now helping her in getting a pass.

The members of TPAC are also trying to answer students’ issues. 

“I understand their frustration and concerns. The initial rollout of the program did not go as intended,” said mathematics-data science senior and TPAC chair, Salik Faisal. “I think the reason why the permits were all sold out is because P&T didn’t anticipate the amount of students registering under priority registration.”

There are a lot of students who neither own a car nor can afford the parking fee. Their only means of commuting was the shuttle service.

“They are the ones who forced us to Sugar Land. How is it fair that we have to pay the price?” Sowunmi said. “Now people who need the bus can’t use it and they are not finding another option for us.” 

There is still hope for students as TPAC tries to craft a better policy for the upcoming fall 2024 session, allowing students more flexibility and options to commute, Faisal said.

“I’m going to make sure those concerns are heard in crafting the next fiscal year’s policy,” Faisal said. “We’re learning about what went wrong in this initial pilot program and will make necessary adjustments moving forward.” 

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  • I am also very frustrated as I discovered on the day of one of my classes at Sugar Land that I do not have a permit and now I’m on a waitlist with hundreds of others.

  • As a student who doesn’t have their driving license, and has classes both on main campus and Sugar Land this semester, it’s still frustrating that even students like us who are eligible for the free permit are forced to wait due to management’s inability to provide enough permits.

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