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Commuter Club offers chance to avoid stressful commute
 
Robert Torres-Torres has a long commute to work, but he’s found a way to get here without having to battle the nightmarish traffic on the Katy Freeway.

Torres-Torres, who lives in west Houston near Katy, is a member of the UH Commuter Club, a program started last year by Parking and Transportation Services. It allows him to hop on a Metro bus at a Park & Ride near his home, then sit back and relax as someone else does the driving.

“I do not have to worry about traffic or parking on campus, which allows me to arrive at work relatively stress-free in the mornings,” he said.

Membership in the club is still small – 40 people were signed up as of the last week of October – but it is steadily growing. And officials in Parking and Transportation Services believe more will want to join once they realize the benefits it has to offer. The goal is to sign up 250 people, which represents approximately 5 percent of staff and faculty.

The university pays 25 percent of the cost for members to ride Metro buses and light rail using a Metro Q Card. That assistance is one of the best parts of being a member, Torres-Torres said, but it’s not the only one.

“Taking Metro to work costs far less than what gasoline costs would be, not to mention the lack of wear and tear on my vehicle, considering I live quite a distance away from UH,” he said.

Torres-Torres, who is the office coordinator in Library Administration, was hired by UH a little less than two months ago. He became a Commuter Club members a couple of weeks later and has not regretted his decision.

Ed Bell, marketing coordinator for Parking and Transportation Services, said the program is open to full-time faculty and staff. It is not open to night-shift workers. Members must give up their UH parking pass if they have one, but they receive 12 days of free parking passes annually for those times they need to drive to campus.

The club also offers other alternative transportation options, including carpools, vanpools, bicycling and even walking.

The program serves several purposes, Bell said. For one, it’s helping to reduce congestion – both on the freeways and on campus. It’s also helping to free up more parking spaces.

“Ultimately, the cost of riding Metro is lower than the cost of gas, especially when we’re covering 25 percent of it,” he said.

To learn more about the Commuter Club, visit www.uh.edu/pts/CommuteClub.