Western Carolina to launch new on-campus shuttle service

CULLOWHEE – Students, faculty and staff at Western Carolina University will have a new way to get around Cullowhee this fall as the university launches a free shuttle service designed to help improve transportation on a growing campus and make it easier for students to get to class on time.

“The university’s master plan calls for the relocation of the main road from the center of campus in 2005, part of an effort to move toward a more pedestrian-oriented campus,” said Gene McAbee, director of university police. “With the growth in student enrollment and the amount of construction taking place on campus, we felt it was a good time to get a shuttle service up and running and get the university community used to the concept of park-and-ride.”

The main shuttle service, called CAT-TRAN, will run during the busiest traffic hours of 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and during such major campus events as move-in day and spring commencement. The route will begin at the parking lot at Hennon Baseball Stadium, making 21 stops on a three-leaf clover-shaped course through campus.

The crosswalk at Dodson Cafeteria in the center of campus has been designated CAT-TRAN Central, with the shuttle making three stops at the location during the route, which takes about 28 minute to complete. With two vehicles in use concurrently, a shuttle should be stopping at CAT-TRAN Central about every five minutes, McAbee said. The maximum wait at any stop will be 15 minutes.

In addition to CAT-TRAN Central, stops are the Ramsey Center, Jordan-Phillips Fieldhouse parking lot, Fine and Performing Arts Center, H.F. Robinson Building, Helder Residence Hall, Central Drive, Forsyth Building, University Bookstore, The Village, A.K. Hinds University Center, Hunter Library, Buzzard’s Roost, Joyner Plaza, Reynolds Residence Hall, water tower parking lot and Bird Building.

A second service, called the CAT-MOBILE, is designed to provide evening transportation to students who park in lots on the perimeter of campus. A “call-for-ride” service providing point-to-point transportation, it is the result of security and safety concerns voiced by students who have to walk on campus at night, McAbee said.

“The daytime shuttle service will address the transportation needs both of commuting and resident students, and will focus on moving students from residence halls and commuter lots to the center of campus,” he said. “The CAT-MOBILE will specifically focus on getting freshmen and residents from the outlying parking lots to their residence halls after dark, but it also may be used for transportation to the library, food services locations after dark, the University Center, the Ramsey Center, and all other buildings on campus.”

The CAT-MOBILE is available by request from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 7 p.m. until 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Members of the campus community needing a ride via the CAT- MOBILE service should call 227-3200.

All CAT-TRAN vehicles will be equipped with police radios. The radios will be used to dispatch the CAT-MOBILE at night, and also will allow drivers to report problems and incidents to police dispatchers supplementing police patrol coverage of the campus.

Both CAT-TRAN and the CAT-MOBILE are campus-only services, McAbee said. “They may not transport students off campus. But, Jackson County Transit provides transportation to key locations in Sylva, and the combination of the services will greatly improve the availability of mass transit services for the campus.”

Official CAT-TRAN buses, which will be equipped to provide service to people with disabilities, are on order and should be delivered in late October or early November. Until the vehicles arrive, CAT-TRAN will use the University Center Shuttle and a motor pool bus during the daytime and a mini-van at night.

Long-range plans call for the installation of shelters at shuttle stops.

More information about CAT-TRAN is available by calling the Office of Auxiliary Services at 227-7322, or online at http://www.wcu.edu/discover/campus-services-and-operations/parking-and-transportation/cat-tran/index.aspx.