University shuttles to begin passenger pickup off campus
There will be a new driver behind the wheel this semester when the bus pulls up to transport Western Carolina University students, faculty and staff to and from off-campus housing.
The university’s parking and transportation services office has assumed responsibility for running an off-campus shuttle service previously provided by Jackson County Transit. Off-campus transportation, which began with the 2007 fall semester, now falls under the auspices of WCU’s University Police Department and its Cat-Tran on-campus transportation system.
“Other than the look and color of the bus, not much will change for the students and other riders,” said Police Chief Earnest Hudson. “Our Cat-Tran buses basically will be following the same routes and stopping at the same off-campus housing complexes as in past years.”
Two routes will be maintained, with a round trip-time of 30 minutes. The “north route,” which includes University Suites, Sleepy Hollow and the Maples, will leave from A.K. Hinds University Center at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., with the final run at 3:30 p.m. The “south route,” which includes Campus Apartments, Laurel Oaks, Hampton/Rabbit Ridge, Summit and Catamount Peaks, will leave the University Center at every half hour from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., except for those times the shuttle will be heading for the north route.
“This works out to a ratio of three trips to the more populous south route for every one trip on the north route,” Hudson said.
WCU students, faculty and staff may ride free of charge by showing their WCU identification cards.
In addition, the university is adding a separate express route shuttle to transport students, faculty and staff to and from the Health and Human Sciences Building, which opens this fall across N.C. Highway 107 from the main campus.
Two buses will provide service to the new building during peak hours and will run approximately 11 minutes apart. One bus will continue into the evening hours until 9 p.m. The express route will make stops only at the Health and Human Services Building and at the University Center.
Over the summer, Cat-Tran staff members have been installing new signs for the on-campus shuttles, reducing the total number of official stops to 20. Buses will make pick-ups and drop-offs only at specified locations.
During peak hours, three shuttles will be serving the main campus, and they typically will run 10 minutes apart. Cat-Tran also will continue to maintain the “Village express” during the morning and early afternoon hours, transporting students to and from the Village on-campus residential complex.
“A very concerted effort is being made to be as efficient and timely as possible,” said Don Taylor, Cat-Tran manager. “Each year, our ridership increases an average of 5 to 7 percent, with more than 275,000 riders in 2011. Cat-Tran is a great asset to the university. It saves students time and gas, and riders don’t have to worry about parking.”
The Cat-Tran website is being updated with all of the latest routes and information. New pamphlets also are being created for distribution to the campus.
For more information including route schedules, visit the website police.wcu.edu and click on “Cat-Tran.”