New Transportation Options Make it Easier to Get Around
Comet Cabs, Expanded Bus Service and More Shorten Travel Times On and Off Campus
Sep. 10, 2012
Alternative transportation programs at UT Dallas are making it easier than ever to get around campus and the surrounding community without owning a car.
The University has added a second Comet Cruiser route to serve students who live near Preston Road's intersection with the tollroad.
Using bikes, buses and car-sharing programs is becoming more appealing, given increasing fuel prices, limited on-campus parking and a campus that’s mostly pedestrian-friendly.
“As we continue to grow, UT Dallas has made a conscious effort to enhance our options for moving individuals throughout the campus community,” said Dr. Calvin Jamison, vice president for administration.
“From bicycling and Comet Cabs to Zipcars and extended bus routes, we want to provide alternatives that keep the campus traffic flow smooth, pedestrian friendly, efficient and safe for the UT Dallas community, no matter how they choose to get around campus,” Jamison said.
Nate Fairbank, Student Government vice president, said he prefers to use a bike instead of a car to get to classes.
“Our campus isn’t really large enough to make driving point to point worthwhile. It’s a pain to find parking close to your destination, and you use gas and hurt the environment,” Fairbank said.
“I love biking around campus because it’s fast, and for me, more fun. Once I’m on my bike, I can get anywhere on campus in two minutes flat, which is really nice. It means I can hit the 'snooze' alarm one extra time in the morning,” Fairbank said.
Cyclists can stow their bikes at one of 1,500 slots at more than 150 bike racks on campus. The racks are located near every residence hall and apartment building, and near an entrance to every academic and recreational building on campus.
Commuters can even take their bikes on Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) buses, using easy-to-use bike racks on the front of the buses.
Avid bicyclists can now perform minor repairs for free at any of five new bicycle repair stations on campus. The Dero Fixit stations each have wrenches, screwdrivers and an air pump needed to perform basic bike repairs and maintenance, such as changing a flat, adjusting brakes, fixing a loose chain or tightening nuts and bolts.
“Pretty much anytime I see anyone with a bike and they’re fiddling with it, I let them know about the stations,” said Elena Morten, parking enforcement supervisor. “Usually their reaction is, ‘Wow. That’s so cool!’”
The tools and air pump are securely attached to the stand with cables and fasteners. The bikes can be hoisted up to allow pedals and wheels to spin freely while making adjustments. Users can even scan a QR code with their smartphones to get links to videos with instructions for making basic repairs.
The repair station’s air pump works with Schrader valves, the most commonly used valve for bikes and cars; and presta valves used on high-performance wheels, but which are not always compatible with the pumps found at gas stations.
Bike repair stations are located at Residence Halls North and South, University Village (Phase 8) Mail Center north of Lot H, the north door of the Activities Center and the northwest corner of Green Hall.
For students who only occasionally need automobiles, the Zipcar fleet makes it possible to rent wheels by the hour.
UT Dallas has partnered with the car-sharing network Zipcar to bring self-service, on-demand car sharing to campus. The University has six cars in its fleet, including two hybrid vehicles and a small SUV.
Students 18 and older with a valid driver’s license held for at least one year pay a $25 annual fee to join the program. The service also is available to faculty and staff, as well as members of the community age 21 and over.
Members reserve a car online and use their Zipcards to pick it up at one of several locations on campus. Cars are returned to the same location where they were picked up. Rates vary but start at $7 an hour. Gas, insurance and maintenance are included. Mileage is free if the trip is less than 180 miles.
UT Dallas Sustainability Manager Thea Junt helped bring the environmentally friendly service to campus.
“It helps gives students freedom to go where they want, when they want,” Junt said. “It maximizes the use of a car by having so many share the vehicle.”
For more information, including how to become a member, check the UT Dallas Zipcar website.
Ben Piper, assistant director for Recreational Sports, uses one of the eight charging stations on the UT Dallas campus to charge up his Chevy Volt.
Rising gas prices are driving sales of electric and hybrid vehicles for commuters. UT Dallas can now accommodate the need to recharge with eight electric car-charging stations dotted across campus.
Users must be members of the Blink Network, and must have a parking permit that is level Gold or better to park in the car-charging spaces. The higher permit level helps cover the cost of electricity for the year.
Guests with a visitor’s pass may use pay-by-space car-charging locations in Lot K near the Student Services Building (SSB). Students in residential housing may purchase a gold permit to have access to car-charging spaces or use the pay-by-space locations in Lot K.
Blink cards enable users to begin charging. It takes about four hours to get a full charge.
Two stations are located at each of the following: the Research and Operation Center near Waterview and Drive A; in Lot I near the Clark Center; in Lot J near the Activity Center; and Lot K near the SSB.
Comet Cruiser Adds Bus Route
UT Dallas operates free campus shuttle buses in cooperation with DART to connect the University to the DART Light Rail system and local residential and shopping areas. The buses are also open to the public; no pass or identification is needed.
New Comet Cruiser Route 884 was added in July to accommodate UT Dallas students living in apartments near Preston Road and the President George Bush Turnpike. Buses depart Lloyd Drive on the hour, and will leave campus from the traffic circle near the Visitor Center at half-past every hour.
Route 884 makes round trips from campus to Lloyd Drive from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. There is no service on Saturdays, but DART buses 350 and 362 can be used to travel the route.
DART Route 883 links campus with the George Bush Turnpike rail station and local residential and shopping areas, including an hourly Wal-Mart run on Fridays and Sundays.
Route 883 travels from the Bush Turnpike Station to Berkner on Rutford Drive to McCallum Blvd, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Comet Cab Shuttles Students
Comet Cabs, a weekday shuttle service at UT Dallas, provides free transportation from parking lots and residence halls to campus buildings.
The Comet Cab shuttle service ferries riders between parking lots, residence halls and campus buildings.
Paul Smith, parking and transportation manager, said the shuttles have been popular for students, particularly if they have classes far from their residence halls.
“Students are pleasantly surprised and excited,” Smith said. “The Comet Cabs are a convenient way to get across campus quickly.”
The 14-seat, electric vehicles operate two regular routes during peak parking hours, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. Comet Cabs typically come every 10 minutes. They may also be waved down to pick up passengers anywhere along its circuit.
The A&B Lot Campus Shuttle vehicles run a continuous loop from the walkway between the remote areas of parking Lots A and B, traveling southwest to the Green Hall bridge and continuing south to the McDermott Library walkway, then further south into parking Lot Q, which serves the Naveen Jindal School of Management, before returning.
The Res Halls Campus Shuttle travels from the southeast corner of Residence Hall West, going eastbound on Loop Road between Residence Halls North and South. The Comet Cab turns south on Rutford Avenue and stops at the closest crosswalk to the passenger’s destination. The cab turns left at Drive A and travels eastbound to the Activities Center Driveway, where it holds momentarily before returning back the same route.
For more information, call 972-883-7777 or visit utdallas.edu/getaround.
Media Contact: Robin Russell, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].