The University of Rhode Island has a new program this school year that many first year students are eligible for. After partnering with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), the University is now offering free RIPTA bus passes to eligible students. These bus passes, which are known as “U-PASS,” are applicable for all RIPTA services.
To be eligible for these bus passes, you must be a first year student who did not register to bring a car on campus. As long as a student meets this requirement, they are able to get a U-PASS for no cost at the Parking and Transportation Services Office.
Joe Paradise, the director of URI’s Parking and Transportation Services, said that this is a pilot program that was implemented shortly before the school year began. He explained that the University’s goal of this program is to “reduce the number of vehicles coming to campus,” which will help to “reduce [URI’s] carbon footprint.”
Paradise also explained that as “the population of URI increases each year, high demand for parking means we must look at alternative transportation services.” He believes that most first year students do not need to bring their cars here, as it is easy to stay involved on campus. However, if students do want to leave campus, this program gives them an easy way to do so, that also “does the University a favor by reducing our carbon footprint.”
At the University, parking has often been discussed as something students wish to be improved. This program can help to both reduce the overflow of cars in the parking lots, as well as provide students with access to transportation without paying the fee associated with bringing a car to campus.
Paradise also pointed out that many colleges do not allow first year students to bring a car to campus at all. The fact that URI both allows first year students to have a vehicle on campus, and also offers free transportation services if they don’t bring a vehicle, highlights the University’s commitment to accessibility of transportation for students.
Despite the University and RIPTA only implementing this program shortly before the school year began, Paradise said the they “were able to promote it enough” so that 500 freshman have already taken advantage of it. The passes are still available, so there is the possibility that this number could increase.
With the goal of the program being to reduce vehicles on campus, the University will have to look at parking statistics to see how effective this program has been. Paradise expects these statistics to be available at the end of October. He said that they will be able to tell if it has reduced freshman car registration, and then compare it to last years numbers.
If successful, Paradise said that they may extend the program to include sophomores. However, this is still a pilot program, and the University must study the effectiveness first. This means there is no current plan in place to extend the program, but that the option is possible.
For non-first year students who may wish to get off campus, the University still offers RIPTA passes at reduced rates. Paradise said that there is a 50 percent reduction rate RIPTA passes in the Memorial Union that are sold to all students, faculty and staff with a valid URI ID. Everyone, regardless of parking status or year, is eligible for these passes.
First year students without a car on campus can take advantage of this no-cost opportunity by visiting Parking and Transportation Services at 44 Lower College Road. The hours to pick up the U-PASS are: Mondays between 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Tuesdays between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Wednesdays between 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and Thursdays between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.. Additionally, any students who acquired a monthly pass in September must pick up a permanent pass that is valid for the rest of the school year. The U-PASS is valid until May 15, 2018. RIPTA schedules can be found in the Parking and Transportation Services office, as well as online.