Shuttle-UM loses Route 1 service but doubles resident ridership
Officials hope efforts will reduce traffic congestion, improve mass transit
The College Park City Council hopes to double the amount of residents able to ride the University of Maryland, College Park's Shuttle-UM in order to address traffic congestion.
Increased use of the shuttle will reduce traffic congestion, College Park officials said, although some still contend that more must be done to improve the city's mass transit system.
Shuttle-UM provides service to students and daily service to areas in Adelphi, Bethesda, Bowie and Greenbelt.
In 2008, the city and university signed an MOU allowing 500 residents to use the shuttle, which had previously been available only to UM students, free of charge. The city paid $10,000 for 500 passes and made them available to residents on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to low ridership on one of the routes, the university and city decided to make changes to the original MOU.
Under the revised agreement, which the council discussed July 14, 1,000 residents will be able to ride the shuttle. The city's costs will be reduced to $5,000, but Route 121, which runs along Route 1 from IKEA in College Park to Franklin's in Hyattsville, will be eliminated in September due to low ridership by UM students. The city and the university hope to revise the MOU before September.
"I'm very sad that the university is planning on discontinuing this important route, but if the ridership is not there, it's not there," said Councilman Mark Cook (Dist. 3). "I'm pleased that they were amenable to my suggestion to increase the amount of passes because that will increase the potential universe of riders."
Route 121 was one of the main routes used largely by residents, said Sara Imhulse, assistant to the city manager.
According to the 2000 Census, College Park has 25,000 residents.
"It's unfortunate that the university decided to get rid of the Route 1 shuttle route as I think it will have a detrimental impact on people who live in Northern College Park," said Councilman Patrick Wojahn (Dist. 1).
UM Transportation Department representatives declined to comment and directed calls to Transportation Director David Allen, who was on vacation.
"It's very disappointing, as we have too little bus service on Route 1," said Sen. James C. Rosapepe (D-Dist. 21) of College Park. "A continuing issue is that the university needs to work with the city, Metro and the county to move into the 21st century in terms of its service. Basically we have a 19th century service."
The current system is not predictable or fast enough, Rosapepe said.
"There's a reason people prefer rail to buses because they're faster, you don't get stuck behind cars, traffic lights and traffic construction," he said. "The Route 1 area is a perfect area for increased mass transit."
Rosapepe said UM and College Park officials need to develop a proposal to receive funding from President Obama's stimulus package that contains money for transportation projects to expand bus service on Route 1.
"We need to get people off the road," he said. "It's a question of doing it instead of talking about it endlessly."