Since first-year residents cannot park their cars on campus, Hurry ‘Canes shuttles offer an easy way to travel around school and Coral Gables. Beginning next semester, the shuttles will be even easier to use.The Department of Parking and Transportation will be altering shuttle routes in the fall to make the shuttle service more efficient for students, while also reducing fuel costs.“We asked ourselves what would be the best and most cost-efficient way of accomplishing our goals,” said Richard Sobaram, director of parking and transportation. “I think it’s practical and fair to say that we need to get people within a five-minute walking distance of their destination while cutting out our current extensive wait times.”These changes will affect the current route schedule. The new schedule will include two shuttle routes, the Ponce Garage/Fountain Route and the Ponce Garage/Stanford Circle Route, with six buses travelling simultaneously. There will be 14 stops, four fewer than before, reducing the wait time between buses to five to eight minutes, which should improve service to 95 percent of shuttle riders.Sobaram’s department arrived at these conclusions by surveying Hurry ‘Canes passengers and conducting simulations for new bus routes in 2009. The department timed buses at peak traffic hours and is adjusting routes according to how quickly buses can arrive at their destinations. About 100 students, faculty and staff members answered the survey, with a strong majority agreeing that having shuttles arrive on time was their main concern.“I’m glad to hear that they’re doing something about it,” said Loubna Turjuman, a rising senior majoring in broadcast journalism and psychology. “I stopped using the shuttle because every time I wanted to use it I was waiting for about half an hour and I was always getting to class late.”Another concern bus riders had, according to Sobaram, was having shuttles piggyback each other. Because of the way the three shuttle routes have been structured in the past, buses would often arrive back-to-back after long wait periods.“The buses were not running the same route, so they couldn’t coordinate with each other,” Sobaram said. However, the changes to shuttle routes will impact certain groups of riders more than others. Metrorail riders will now have to switch shuttles at the Ponce Garage to reach stops on the Fountain Route; Mahoney/Pearson residents will use Stanford Circle as their pick-up/drop-off point; University Village residents will use either the Brescia stop or the Hecht Athletic Center stop to access shuttles. Getting to these stops, however, will not take more than a five-minute walk.“We went out and actually walked it, and no walk took longer than five minutes,” Sobaram said. “Our main concern is getting students from point A to point B more quickly. We can’t have a door-to-door service and cutting down the number of stops will also allow us to economize on fuel.”Shuttle changes may pose an inconvenience for some students, but availability is their biggest concern.“I don’t really care about the changes. As long as I have a shuttle to take me where I need to go, it doesn’t make a difference to me,” said UV resident Nikolaus Rizos, a rising senior majoring in broadcast journalism and geography.Students can use the university’s shuttle tracking service at UMshuttles.com, which they can log onto from their computers or cell phones, to determine how long they should wait for their bus. The service displays the buses by GPS and gives an estimated time of arrival at designated spots.For longer trips, the university also provides students with Zipcar. Students using Zipcar can rent a car at an hourly rate of $8 that includes both gas and insurance after paying a $35 yearly fee. They can also be parked for free at any university parking lot. Zipcars can be reserved on the telephone or at zipcar.com.
INFOBOX: The Ibis Ride provides off-campus shuttle service
Destinations: The Shops at Sunset Place, Publix, CVS, Whole Foods
Hours of Operation: Thursdays and Fridays 5 p.m. – 2 a.m., Saturdays 12 p.m. – 2 am., Sundays 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Destination: Coconut Grove
Hours of Operation: Thursday through Saturday, 8 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Alexandra Leon may be contacted at email@example.com.