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August 20, 2012 - 12:00am

UL Lafayette Implements Bus Schedule, Opens New Pay Lot

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University of Louisiana at Lafayette students who park at Cajun Field will be greeted this weekwith the introduction of a formal schedule for the transit bus route as part of a pilot by the university. Also, a new day-rate parking lot will open at the corner of St. Mary and Cherry streets.

“Students should barely notice a difference in the bus service,” said Joey Sturm, UL Lafayette police chief, who also temporarily oversees the Parking and Transit Office. “During this pilot and beyond, we expect the level of service to be at least the same and anticipate that it will be better in the long term.”

Buses to the main campus will begin operating from Cajun Field at 6:40 a.m. They will depart in 10-minute intervals during the peak morning hours. The transit system has scheduled five buses, with at least three on standby, at Cajun Field for the first week of classes to address potential bottlenecks or breakdowns. That’s the same number of buses that were on hand last year at the start of the fall semester.

“The first week of a regular semester can be challenging while students get settled into their schedules and commute routines. We will be on site monitoring the process for this first critical week and will continue to monitor it throughout the semester,” Sturm said.

He explained that the new schedule is based on a study conducted by Lafayette Consolidated Government that evaluated the number of bus passengers during peak hours. UL Lafayette plans to hire LCG to manage the university’s transit system, beginning with the Spring 2013 semester. LCG will use new, fuel-efficient buses and will continue to hire university students as bus drivers.

“We’re trying to provide better service to our students, while being more efficient with the limited financial resources available to us,” Sturm said. “We also need to more fully understand the needs of our transit system before entering into an agreement with the city-parish next spring.”

Sturm said a consultant will arrive on campus in about two weeks to evaluate the transit system and make recommendations. The police chief hopes to have any wrinkles in the system ironed out before the consultant arrives.

“Students need to allocate reasonable time to ride the buses from Cajun Field to campus. I suggest they arrive at least 35 to 45 minutes before their class begins to allow time to park, walk to the bus stop, allow the bus to load, depart, and drive to campus, and for them to walk to class,” he said.

Printed schedules will be distributed during the first week of classes. The new schedule also will be posted on the university’s parking and transit website. During non-peak hours, at least two buses will run between the main campus and Cajun Field. Parking at the Cajun Field lot is free.

Two lots on the main campus, both adjacent to St. Mary Street, are available for paid parking with the Cajun Card, or credit or debit card.

The Earl K. Long Gym parking lot has 205 spots and costs $1.25 for the first hour and $1 for each additional hour. The lot at Cherry Street, opened as a day-long lot this semester, has 380 spots and costs a $5 flat rate for each day. Both lots are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

As part of Welcome Week, the Student Government Association will hand out fruit and donuts at the corner of Rex Street and St. Mary Boulevard beginning Monday at 7:30 a.m.

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