By Katie White
Published: Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The majority of students know Transportation Services handles parking on campus and transit services with buses. Parking changes often with construction on campus and the influx of new students every year. Transportation Services added a new program for pay-by-the-hour parking to accommodate students on-the-go.
"We offer a pay-by-phone service for designated pay-by-the-hour visitor parking spaces," said June Broughton, marketing manager for Transportation Services. "We have teamed up with Verrus to provide this quick, easy and convenient way to pay hourly parking fees with a single phone call."
Students who want to use the service can set up an online account and then call a number and enter when and where they are parking. They can also elect to receive a text message reminding them before the time expires on their parking space to avoid receiving a ticket.
Transportation Services also handles special event parking. Parking attendants in the lots on football game days work up to 13-hour shifts to ensure hassle-free and confusion-free parking.
"When you come up to and get mad at us out there, we've been working a really long day and we are doing our best, so please don't be mad at us," said Jessy Faulkner, a senior international studies major and Transportation Services student worker. "Most students don't know there are certain lots on game days where they can park for free as long as they have some sort of parking pass."
Though your permit for your regular lot may be null and void on game days, you can still park on campus for free.
Students who have received a parking ticket in the past might be familiar with the Student Parking Appeals Board. A student who believes he or she received a parking citation in error can appeal the ticket within 14 days of receiving it. The student must have valid evidence that the violation was either not committed or that it occurred due to circumstances beyond his or her control.
The appeals board consists of students and reviews appeals made by students and visitors. They have the authority to dispose of a case by upholding charges completely or partly by reducing the fine, or by dismissing the charges completely.
Students also use Transportation Services to get to school on the buses that run from different places around College Station to campus. Ellie Valencia, a sophomore animal science major, said the buses cause problems for students trying to get to class on time.
"I think they're unreliable. I think they should add more buses and hire more people or something cause it's not working," Valencia said. "Or change the schedule to where it's actually going to be on time. Don't make the schedule every 10 minutes and then have buses come every 15, like have the schedule to where it's right, and don't have it mislead people."
David Haecker, a senior mathematics major, works as a bus driver for Transportation Services and said he has been yelled at before by passengers who were upset about the late buses.
"There's a whole lot of variables; you know, traffic lights, traffic, people getting on and off, how many stops you have," Haecker said. "It takes a long time to get people on and off a bus. The routes that go right before a class starts can be late, but buses in between are usually on time. You can't expect to stand outside your house 20 minutes before your class starts every time and get to class. I advise a parking pass for those people who complain."
Transportation Services monitors ridership on bus routes in order to support more popular routes, prevent buses from overcrowding and keep passengers from being tardy to class. Doug Williams, interim director, said the department made minor changes this year to start times and end times on some routes and scheduled extra buses not on the regular schedule.
"In addition we ask that students monitor their schedules on catching the buses because not everyone can ride at the same start time," Williams added.
Since the changes were put in place, Williams said some of the overload has been alleviated.
"We are seeing routes return to normal as students are better adjusted to their fall semester schedules, and extra buses were added temporarily during peak times to some routes such as 33 which travels Wellborn [Road] to Longmire [Drive] and route 36 which travels George Bush [Drive] to Luther [Street]," Williams said.
Transportation Services also offers information about bicycle safety on campus. More bike racks have been installed on campus to help students who did not have a place to lock their bicycles up and risked getting them stolen. A new, free service Transportation Services provides is a bicycle registration program.
"Register your bike for ease in lost or stolen recovery, and we will send you news and updates about the new bike program as we continue to add services for you," Broughton said.
Students can register their bikes online under their account and Transportation Services will send them a sticker to put on their bike that can help police or transportation workers return it if it is recovered.
Transportation Services also provides a free ride share service to students if they either need to catch a ride somewhere or want to split the gas with someone. Students can sign up on the department's website.
"If you're needing a ride, this is a free service to hook you up with other Aggies who might be going the same direction as you," Broughton said.
Transportation Services will also launch a program next semester for students who might need to rent a car for a short period of time such as a day or a few hours.
"A lot of universities run a program like this and we are excited to be working on providing this to our students," Broughton said.
Another free service Transportation Services provides to students is park and ride to campus from either Post Oak Mall or First Baptist Church of College Station.
Students concerned about traffic jams and getting to class on time can look under the Traffic/Construction tab on the transportation website to find where slowdowns on and off campus might occur due to construction and other utilities projects.
The Transportation Services Advisory Committee started in 2007, with members representing different groups on campus including staff, athletes and students.
"In 2006, Transportation Services used a construction advisory committee to discuss and decide how to deal with parking lot loss during new building construction," Broughton said. "The Transportation Construction Advisory Committee helped Transportation Services recognize the need for a committee that would discuss a variety of parking issues for the long term."
Launched this year, the Motorist Assistance program aids students stranded on campus who need to air up a tire, to get some gas or to jump a battery. "We have something new this year. If you run out of gas or need a boost, someone will actually come out and bring you a gallon of gas or help jump your car," said Cindy Johnson, a Transportation Services employee.
Transportation Services provides the gas service Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on the weekends from
7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Broughton said students can access Motorist Assistance for free by calling the dispatch number at 979-845-0057.
The department also helps facilitate traffic on moving days and for athletic events. They provide free shuttles on football game days to and from Post Oak Mall called "Get to the Grid." The department also organizes some campus events.
"Transportation Services schedules the fun runs on campus," said Lynn Wiggs, manager of special events. "Our group sets up the course, provides training material for flaggers, equipment and ensure notification to other scheduling groups."
Jill Beathard contributed to this report.