Transportation includes the commute to campus from individual’s homes, as well as movement on the campus itself. For many commuting students, the cost of maintaining and using an automobile for transportation may be the second highest cost of college attendance after tuition. Maintenance, repair, insurance, fuel, traffic violations, as well as the upfront price of a vehicle can be overwhelming to the struggling student, and public transportation can offer a welcome assistance. Most cities offer free or reduced bus passes to students, thereby eliminating all of the above costs to owning a vehicle. Taking public transportation also reduces the overall carbon emission amount in a city.
Public transportation has to be in place for communities of the Rio South Texas region to have options for alternative transportation. There are currently collaborative efforts among UTPA, the City of Edinburg, the City of McAllen, and the Housing of Urban Development (HUD) to pursue a regional planning grant focused on sustainable communities to include transportation and housing. This grant would help create public transportation options for the local and campus communities, and shape more sustainable development in the region. Many students come to campus as a single-rider in a vehicle, but a small amount also walk, car/van-pool, ride the bus, and cycle. These methods need significant enhancements in order to grow in popularity. UTPA could boast some progress toward transportation sustainability if it is reducing the proportion of the campus population that drives to and from campus, which is what many of our peer institutions have succeeded in doing.
The following initiatives have already been implemented on campus:
- Bicycle only lane on University Drive encourages the use of bikes by students, staff, faculty, and visitors. Bike racks are available for use around the university to accommodate the use of bikes.
- Motorcycles have been advocated by approving the price reduction for a motorcycle permit.
- Crosswalk signs purchased to improve pedestrian visibility by drivers. Interlocal, with the city, was created to allow UTPA to place these signs on city streets, i.e. Miguel Nevarez Dr., Schunior St. and Sugar Rd.
- Purchase of T3 chariot units, which are electric, allow the Police Department access around the campus with ease without taking too much space and/or fuel.
- Purchase of police bicycles, which require no use of fuels, allow the Police Department greater access for interior campus patrols in pedestrian areas and parking lots.
- UTPA provides shuttle services to remote parking lots Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. when class is in session.
- Students, faculty, and staff may present their UTPA ID at any Rio Metro Bus Station in the Rio Grande Valley from 6 a.m.—10 p.m. Depending on the route, riders may change shuttle buses until they are on a designated bus commuting to the university. The UTPA/ Rio Metro bus stop is located on University Drive in Edinburg, in front of the Marialice Shary Shrivers Administration Building.
A sustainable transportation plan should support compact growth and multiuse development, where walking, cycling, and bussing are more convenient and practical. Transportation also provides a significant opportunity to build stronger links with our neighboring cities, which can play a major role by providing public transportation and improving the infrastructure and traffic enforcement that enable and encourage pedestrian and bicycling options.
Bicycles Helping the Campus Community: Officer Fidencio Casteñeda's Story
"I like getting out and being involved with the campus. I get people who come up and ask about the bicycle. There are a lot of cyclists on campus that are interested in bikes. And on a bike we're more approachable. It's a lot more interactive," says Casteñeda... Read More
Sustainable Communities Magazine