In less than a year, the parking and transportation issues that many students face could be eliminated.
By fall 2018, the university will have added about 75 to 100 parking spaces to Panther Village, and plans to adjust its shuttle services to better fit students’ needs, said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Harold Hewitt.
Also by fall 2018, the Lastinger Parking Structure will expand by about 350 spaces when the Keck Center for Science and Engineering is completed, said Assistant Director of Parking and Transportation Sheryl Boyd.
“We’re expanding parking because we have all this land (at Panther Village), and eventually, we may choose to build something there – but for now we’re making it better for the students that are living there,” Hewitt said.
Parking will also be available to all students living in the newly purchased Chapman Grand apartments, which will open to students next fall. The building will have shuttles running, similar to Panther Village.
“(Chapman) Grand has a ton of parking. We don’t believe it will be a problem, so hopefully the capacity of the shuttles will be adequate,” he said.
The university will purchase more shuttles – in addition to the two already used for Panther Village residents – that will run to and from the school to Chapman Grand every 30 minutes, Hewitt said. The number of new shuttles has not been solidified, Boyd said.
“That is something we will address during contract negotiations for our transit service early next year,” she wrote to in an email to The Panther.
Students who want to drive to school won’t have any issues, Hewitt said. The students expected to live at the new apartments are already living off campus, and most of them drive and park in the Lastinger Parking Structure daily. Parking passes for students who live at Chapman Grand will include on-campus parking.
The situation is different at Panther Village, since it accommodates about one parking spot for each apartment. Panther Village residents who do have cars cannot use passes to park on main campus before 4 p.m., so unless they have a night class, they have to take the shuttle.
Hewitt said that in addition to adding more parking spaces to Panther Village, he has been working with Chief of Public Safety Randy Burba to identify how the school can improve its shuttle service.
“We should poll students at Panther Village and (Chapman Grand). Once that group is identified, we can see if they feel there are times of day where more frequency is needed,” Hewitt told The Panther.
Burba was not immediately available for comment.
Right now, the Panther Village shuttle service is scheduled to loop between the complex and campus every 20 minutes and has two shuttles running during the day. At night, only one shuttle runs, so it comes about every 40 minutes. The last shuttle of the day is scheduled to leave main campus at 11:55 p.m. on weekdays and 9:05 p.m. on weekends, according to a schedule on the university website.
Malia Galindo is a senior sociology major who is in her third year living at Panther Village. She said that although the shuttles do a good job of being consistent, there are things about the night and weekend schedules that she wishes were different – like parts of Operation Saferide, a night ride service available to students.
“(Operation) Saferide won’t drive you back to (Panther Village) if the shuttles are running,” Galindo said “I think that is a problem because when it’s late and you miss it, you could have to wait 40 minutes,” she said.
Galindo also said that it isn’t uncommon for students living in Panther Village to be late to class because of the shuttles.
“There’s just a lot of general complaining about the shuttle. But I think that’s also because people aren’t used to taking (public transportation),” she said. “That’s just the nature of having to work on a schedule that’s not yours.”