This article was originally published in The Cougar. To view the original story, click here.
Classes start Aug. 25, and students are getting in gear for the beginning of a brand new semester at University of Houston. The parking lots and streets will soon be filled with students on bikes, motorcycles and in their personal vehicles. Traffic is coming to UH in more ways than one.
“Parking is an issue on any campus, (but) everything has changed in the past ten years here at UH,” said Parking and Transportation Services Director Robert Browand. “Ten years ago we did not have the Metro Q-Fare Card or Zipcar. The campus shuttle service did not have the number of buses running as there are today.
Not only have the options increased, but they have improved drastically: CougarLine buses have increased in number and become bigger and more comfortable over the years.
Not having a car is not an excuse anymore — there are plenty of options for commuters, students living on campus, and even those with temporary vehicular issues such as a flat tire or a breakdown.
“UH Shuttle carries 1.4 million riders per year, 1,073 students have been issued a Metro Q-Fare Card, (and) in 2014, the Hertz car share program (which has now been replaced by Zipcar) had 1,040 members,” Browand said.
CougarLine is the free on-campus shuttle service that consists of four routes: Campus Loop, ERP Loop, ERP Express and Outer Loop. When students download the CougarTrax app, a real time GPS tracking system delivers updates on when the next shuttle will be at a specific stop. The app can be accessed via desktop or mobile. The maps of these routes can be seen below. All CougarLine shuttles are handicap accessible.
These reloadable cards give fifty percent off Metro fares. This option is not just for commuters; on-campus students can utilize Metro to get to popular destinations such as Minute Maid Park, Reliant Park, the museum district or the Galleria.
Starting this fall, students will be able to request Metro Q-Fare Cards online and pick them up at the Welcome Center after they are processed through the parking office (within two days). In the past, these cards have been processed at Metro offices, having some students wait for more than a week to receive their cards.
A new addition to the UH campus, Zipcar replaced Hertz once their contract expired.
With this service, students are able to rent a car for as low as $6.50 per hour or by the day. This price includes insurance, gas and up to 180 miles of driving. You can even take Zipcars out of town. In a matter of minutes, UH students can sign up as a member online at zipcar.com/uhouston. Upon approval, a membership card is sent to the user, which can be utilized as a key. For members who are over 21, this Zipcard gives them access to over 10,000 vehicles in the Zipcar fleet. They also have mobile apps.
“Zipcar is currently the world leader in providing ‘wheels when you want them.’ We were the first to offer cars by the hour to people under 25, and we were the first to launch a program for people 18 and older,” said Zipcar Public Relations Specialist C. J. Himberg. “Overall, our members report saving, on average, about $600 per month compared to owning a car which is a great option if the commuters ever decide to sell their car.”
Zipcar is willing to work with students if they would like to utilize a Zipcar but need special accommodations, too.
“Members with approved service animals can request permission to be waived of the ‘pets in carriers’ rule,” Himberg said. “Further, if a member with a disability would like to install temporary controls, such as hand controls, they are encouraged to reach out to our team to help arrange any needs.”