Gators: Is Reliable Transportation to Campus a Challenge?
Let Us Know in a New Survey on Student Commute Needs!
By Indira Zaldivar & Edward Saenz, The Dateline
Transportation to UHD is a critical need for Gator students to allow them to access campus resources and attend in-person classes. Now, a new survey will gather data on the best way UHD can help.
Commute Solutions partnered with UHD’s new Basic Needs Initiative, led by Director of Student Life Eugene Bernard, to launch a survey that will help identify how students commute to campus and what alternative modes of transportation are of interest.
“Through the survey, we hope to gain insight into how students are currently commuting to class and identify options they would be interested in trying,” said Senior Program Coordinator Francis Rodriguez with the Commute Solutions program at the Houston-Galveston Area Council. “Once we run the analysis, we will learn about areas of opportunity to help provide students with the appropriate transportation resources.”
For example, are there opportunities to create carpools? Are students interested in mass transit? Depending on the answers to these questions, Rodriguez said the committee can share resources such as ConnectSmart, a new trip planner app, and METRO’s student discount.
Rodriguez was onsite during the University’s Week of Welcome and learned about how students commute to class.
“In addition to tuition, commuting is a major concern for students,” she added. “With no on-campus housing available, we’ve had numerous conversations with students to explore the many challenges they face when deciding how they will get to school. For some, a rideshare service is the only option, but that can also be costly.”
The cost of owning a vehicle is a big concern for students on tight budgets—expenses such as car payments, gas, tolls, oil changes, and new tires add up. Some students shared they own a vehicle, but it may not be reliable, posing a safety concern if the car breaks down, according to Rodriguez. “Let’s face it, owning a car isn’t cheap,” Rodriguez said.
Carpooling is of great interest, but the challenge is connecting with others who live nearby. “They don’t know who to carpool with,” Rodriguez noted.
By entering their zip code in the survey, the Commute Solution’s GIS team will create a map identifying where people live who have an interest in carpooling. Additional details including commute days and arrival and departure times can work toward creating carpools.
A potential follow-up survey for those who participated in the first survey would analyze whether students actually changed their commute mode. These results could help determine the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction and how the region’s air quality improved, as the reduction of VMTs means a reduction in CO2.
With most students driving alone during rush hour, encouraging a mode shift may also help to reduce traffic and improve our region’s air quality.
“While alternative modes of commuting can help save students money, it’s also more sustainable and positively impacts our air quality,” Rodriguez noted, “This would be better for our planet and the health of our fellow community members, especially those with pulmonary issues, such as asthma or COPD.”
Commute Solutions is proud to partner with UHD and its Student Basic Needs Initiative, providing transportation information and resources to help make their college experience a success.
“Through our collaboration with UHD, we’ll help students find alternative commuting options to save them time, money, and reduce stress,” said Rodriguez.
Students are invited to participate in the survey now through Feb. 28.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.