Director of finance for transportation services says bus routes are “maxed out”

Director of finance for transportation services says bus routes are “maxed out”

Director of finance for transportation services says bus routes are “maxed out”
March 29
18:36 2017

There has been an over 15 percent increase of UNT campus shuttle riders this current school year due to new campus construction and lack of parking spots, transportation authorities said.

Through a multi-year contract with the Denton County Transportation Authority, UNT pays around $3.2 million for the shuttle services with the UNT student transit fees. Students are charged $3.50 per credit hour every school semester, totaling to a little over $3.1 million, director of finance administration transportation services Geary Robinson said.

“We work with DCTA every year,” Robinson said. “First Transit provides the actual service and they work with different vendors to help us create the routes. We look at the number of passenger rides for the particular route, location and predominantly we are maxed out.”

As the campus continues to grow, the “best” place to build on top of is a parking lot, he explained. With the availability of between 12,000 and 13,000 parking spots on campus for students, faculty, staff and guest, UNT is looking for ways to put an “emphasis” on transit.

“We aren’t going to build 40,000 parking spaces,” he said. “You would have to find about 640 acres and bus everyone in and you still haven’t solved your problem. Not everyone is on campus at the same time.”

Currently, the UNT shuttles give rides to a little less than 3 million passengers a year. Shuttle ridership is up 16.8 percent for DCTA’s 2017 fiscal year, DCTA senior communications specialist Adrienne Hamilton said. The reason for this increase is due to new athletic facilities, academic buildings and residence halls being built and taking away parking lots. Less parking lots make students, faculty and staff use the shuttles to get around campus.

There are a total of 18 UNT shuttles marked with “the University of North Texas” on the sides. If one of the UNT buses were to break down, DCTA would “put one of their buses into the mix,” Robinson said.

For bus routes that don’t leave campus, students are not required to swipe their ID when boarding the bus. This makes the drivers “responsible” for taking a manual headcount of passengers, he said. DCTA is looking into contemporary technology to do a “better job” of counting the number of student users.

All routes go through the city of Denton, stopping at as many apartment complexes as possible and main points on campus like the University Union, Discovery Park and Apogee Stadium. The routes can be found on the transportation website at transportion.unt.edu.

The majority of the routes start at 7 a.m. and end at about 10 p.m., running anywhere up to five miles off campus grounds. Each bus stop has a wait time of about 8 to 10 minutes.

Robinson hopes for transportation to continue to grow and eventually add stops on routes to reach spots like apartment complexes far away from campus.

“We can’t rely on just parking alone,” Robinson said. “We need to expand our transportation system. Make it grow with the population of the student body so, we can provide additional buses and be self-sufficient.”

Featured Image: A UNT bus waits at Av. A to  start the Colorado Express route. Normal UNT bus routes go from 7:30 a.m. to 10: p.m. Monday to Thrusday, and Fridays up to 5:30 p.m. The service started on January 2003, after the aproval from the board of regents  during the Fall semester of 2002. Between UNT and DCTA, a total of 32 busses serve around campus. Jennyfer Rodriguez

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Jacqueline Guerrero

Jacqueline Guerrero

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