A commuter’s guide to campus

Maps are strategically place across campus to help students navigate UM.
Maps are strategically place across campus to help students navigate UM. Photo credit: Dan Snitzer

Commuting is its own art form — a balancing act where commuters negotiate reckless Miami drivers, club meetings after hours, making it to class on time and pesky parking fees. Whether students stay with family or rent an apartment nearby, it can feel overwhelming at times. Here are some tips to help put those worries on mute for an easier commute.

Everything travel related

Miami may run on its own time, but class schedules do not. To arrive on time, commuters should leave 15 minutes earlier than originally planned. Miami traffic has no mercy; a blocked lane or accident could be the difference between being on time or 10 minutes late.

“When I commute it’s typically 10-15 minutes and traffic isn’t too much of an issue because I found the backroads to make it easier,” senior Olivia Carbonero said.

Apps like Waze or Google Maps are great resources for locating routes that aren’t traffic heavy.

Once on campus, it’s important for commuters to know where to park. The campus parking map is a helpful tool to get acquainted with the designated color zones. Color zones are heavily enforced by campus parking police between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The color zone restrictions are lifted on the weekend and after 4 p.m. which allows students with a permit to park freely through campus.

Returning commuter students can begin purchasing their parking passes July 25 at 12:01 a.m. and new commuter students can begin purchasing their parking passes Aug 1 at 12:01 a.m. through UM’s parking and transportation portal.

Multiple PayByPhone stations are also available throughout campus for students and visitors who wish to park for a limited amount of time. Paid with card only, the hourly rate is $2.00. A parking session of five hours or more automatically converts to all day parking which is $10.00.

UM students, using their UM credentials, can also obtain a month-long Metrorail pass for a 50% discount.

Alternatively, commuters who enjoy a nice bike ride to campus should park their bicycles in the allotted bike racks. Students can also register their bikes with the UM Police Department to receive theft protection and a free bike lock.

Campus involvement

Campus involvement is essential to the college experience. Getting involved in campus activities is often a challenge commuter students face as many organizations host their meetings and events in the evenings between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. While on-campus residents are able to walk home and can easily return for these meetings, commuters must decide between driving home and back or staying on campus an extra few hours.

The key is to prepare for the on-campus break. Students can pack homework materials to get ahead on schoolwork, bring gym clothes to get a workout in or cozy up with a good book and a snack — the options are endless. There is even a lounge just for commuters, located in the Shalala Student Center in Suite 210C, as well as commuter resources in the Office of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement (OCSI) on the second floor of Shalala.

Groups to join

The Association of Commuter Students (ACS) specializes in creating a community where commuters can connect and make the most of their time at the university. Isabel Marquez, a senior and Miami commuter, said she was hesitant at first about ACS but decided to give it a try.

“I’m really glad I did because it has made my entire college career really fun,” Marquez said. “The majority of my friends I’ve made through [ACS]. It’s full of loving and accepting people.”

The Department of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement (OCSI) works in tandem with ACS to provide commuters with a streamline transition to the university. They host Great Start, a program that takes place prior to the start of the fall semester where incoming commuters learn about the university and socialize with peers and ‘Cane Kickoff, a celebratory series of events at the start of the fall semester that acquaints students with life at the university.

In regards to incoming commuters, Carbonero shared her wisdom. “Meet as many people as possible. Explore as much as you can because these four years are going to help guide you for the rest of your life.”