Public transportation for students at The University of Texas-Pan American will be free thanks to a partnership the University has started with the Rio Metro Urban Transportation System, a service provided by the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC). Students with a valid University ID will be able to take advantage of the bus system.
Rio Metro offers travel to and from UTPA from supporting cities in the Rio Grande Valley. This service is available to students in all cities with Rio Metro bus stops. The collaboration will also include South Texas College and the city of La Joya.
"The program will positively affect those students who struggle to meet their academic endeavors due to unavailable or unaffordable transportation," said Leticia Benavides, director of UTPA's auxiliary services.
Students 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 busses 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 Shivers Administration Building.
According to Benavides, the partnership began on Sept. 2 as a result of UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas's recommendation to assist students struggling to attend their classes due to escalading gasoline prices. The program currently serves 95 UTPA students, and is designed so students will be on-campus by 7:45 a.m.
"Last summer when gas prices began to spike, we became concerned about our students and their ability to get to campus. We put together a group to study ways that the University might help with student transportation," said Dr. John Edwards, UTPA vice president for Division of Enrollment and Student Services.
Another transportation option offered to students by the UTPA Student Government Association is Ridesharing. The online service aids students, who are either looking for a ride to campus, or who would like to offer a ride to another student. Ridesharing is intended to save money on gas by sharing the cost, alleviate traffic congestion, and help the environment.
"Public transportation is also something that we are interested in promoting to teach our students about the benefits to our environment when we drive less. Another positive result is less congestive and less parking needs on the campus," said Edna Zambrano, Student Union director.
For more information about Rio Metro bus schedules and routes, visit the LRGVDC Web Site at www.lrgvdc.org