North Texas Daily

The long haul: commuting to campus

The long haul: commuting to campus

September 17
03:54 2015

Kyle Martin | Staff Writer


Every college student faces struggles. Eating Ramen noodles every other night. Pulling on that pair of jeans that may or may not still be dirty. Waiting to put gas in the car until next week.

But the nature of being a college student changes when one doesn’t live within the vicinity of his or her school.

It’s no secret that commuters make up a large portion of students at UNT. At any given time, classrooms are sprinkled with students that have driven from Carrollton, Plano or even Fort Worth.

“At the very least, it takes 45 minutes to commute,” kinesiology junior Jalen Rodriguez said. “I’m lucky because I just take 380 [University Drive] all the way here.”

Rodriguez is one of the over 8,000 “non-traditional” students at UNT who commute to and from campus. Living in McKinney, Rodriguez has been commuting to Denton for two years now.

Commuting has both pros and cons, but the main reason Rodriguez commutes is to save money. Staying at home to work on assignments between exams and classes costs him much less than it would to move out..

Staying financially ahead of the game is no easy task for any college student. One of the biggest complaints from Rodriguez and other commuters is the infamous parking issue on campus.

“I hate that I have to pay for parking and how it’s not included in my $4,000 tuition,” Rodriguez said.

Costs for parking permits at UNT (per year) are as follows:

• Premium Commuter: $225.00

• Premium Commuter (Fall): $175.00

• General Commuter: $135.00

• Resident: $250.00

• Motorcycle: $105.00

Still, finding a parking spot is not always guaranteed. Many students search through both Premium and General parking lots, only to find themselves parking by a church or in a neighborhood instead of on campus.

Hospitality management junor Gavin Darzi finds the morning trek to Denton from Frisco can be a bit hectic. With many drivers on the road in the early hours of morning, it’s not uncommon for drowsy drivers to drift into the adjacent lane.

“The worst part about commuting is the traffic,” Darzi said. “I usually have to stop somewhere to get coffee, Red Bull or something to eat.”

Darzi and Rodriguez share in the struggles that many students face when making the pilgrimage to campus every week. However, one student’s story illustrates what it really means to be a “non-traditional” commuter.

In 2014, Rehab Studies senior Shawn Riley commuted from Plano everyday. A junior at the time, Riley left his house at 6 a.m. to arrive at school by 9 a.m. for a 9:30 class. He took advantage of Dallas-Fort Worth public transportation systems in order to maintain his scholarly endeavors

“I cannot let this affect my school,” Riley said.

Riley received a DWI one night in 2014, and his license was suspended. Realizing he would be set back because of his lack of transportation, he started looking for other options to commute. After finding a commuter plan with the DCTA run by UNT and TWU affiliates, Riley bought a $400, 12-month Student Regional Bus Pass through the “University Pass Program” with the DCTA (Denton County Transportation Authority).

“I looked at it and said, ‘Son of a bitch. This is going to be hard,’” Riley said.

Through this program, students have access to many transit options in the D-FW area, which include the A-Train, Connect, Connect RSVP and UNT Shuttle services, among other fixed bus route options.

“This is what I have to do,” Riley said. “It’s not my only option, but it’s what is going to work best.”

The program allows students to take advantage of public transportation at a discounted rate. For students like Riley who find themselves hard-pressed for transportation, this could be the option many struggling students are looking for.

“Once I got myself into a system I said, ‘OK, I can do this,’” he said.

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