What You Need to Know in Fall 2020: Mobility on—and Beyond—Campus
From Buses to E-scooters, Options Abound, and Safety’s the Priority
Pandemic or no, you’ve still gotta move.
Whether it’s traveling to campus from home, traversing the University of Maryland’s broad expanses or making excursions to the far reaches of Greater College Park, the Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) and its partners want you to reach your destination.
The priorities of convenience and safety have motivated a few changes in DOTS operations for Fall 2020. Here’s a list of what’s been in motion, transportation-wise, since the campus was last populated:
Buses resumed operations for Fall 2020 last week with some operational changes to keep service rolling smoothly and safely during the pandemic, said Cara Fleck Plewinski ‘07, assistant director of marketing and communications for DOTS. The one route change passengers will want to be aware of is that many of the stops served previously by the 127 Mazza GrandMarc and 128 Enclave routes will now be served by the 131 MGM/Enclave route.
“Otherwise, the routes that typically run are running, but with abbreviated schedules to allow for enhanced cleaning” by a contractor charged with sanitizing the fleet, she said. “There will also be pauses during off-peak hours to limit the number of drivers operating a single bus, which provides an extra margin of safety.”
There are some new requirements for passengers this fall, including face coverings at all times, boarding and exiting from the rear of the bus (except for people using wheelchairs) and striving to maintain distance from fellow passengers.
Bus drivers will observe the state of physical distancing on the bus and may skip stops as a result. “When this happens the digital signs on the outside of the bus will say “Bus Full,” Plewinski said. “Buses will stop only to allow those on board to exit.”
Time-based service restrictions for NiteRide from spring have been lifted; the service will take you anywhere within the coverage area between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m., although in order to provide social distancing, rides for different passengers will no longer be combined. The paratransit service area has also added options for getting to and from campus without riding a bus; visit the DOTS paratransit webpage for more information.
Parking space roulette is practically a tradition at the start of a fall semester, and the general lack of jam-packed lots this year may feel a bit disorienting (or simply delightful). With so many students, faculty and staff on hybrid work and study plans, or working exclusively at home, DOTS has made some changes to offer more parking flexibility.
The new single-use daily permit option, good for people coming to campus once or twice a week for at least four hours, costs $12 a day; permits are sold in five-packs. For faculty, staff and students, they’re valid in assigned lots and designated overflow areas. Payroll parking deductions may be canceled at any time. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, mainly for those who only come to campus occasionally, DOTS has re-instituted $15 daily maximums in metered parking, which still charges $3 an hour. Across campus, regular parking restrictions resumed Aug. 31.
Bikes and e-scooters
Veo’s now-familiar fleet of mint-green e-bikes and black e-scooters is returning to UMD and College Park for Fall 2020, and will be available at 40 stations by Sept. 14, the university announced yesterday. Learn more about riding locally, as well as Veo’s enhanced cleaning operations spurred by COVID-19, on the company’s UMD webpage.
BikeUMD is also doing contactless customer service this semester; if you need to pick up a stored or impounded bike, fill out the online retrieval form and a team member will contact you to coordinate a pickup outside the Regents Drive Garage.
The Bike Commuter Incentive program still offers secure and covered bike parking, but access to RecWell cycling facilities, including showers, is temporarily suspended. The RecWell Bike Shop is also operating with modified capacity this fall. View details on the bike shop’s webpage.
If you need a bike to get to work, you might be in luck. Anyone bike shopping at local stores or even on Craigslist recently knows the pandemic has raised the demand for people-powered conveyances, making them a lot more popular and a lot more spendy.
“We’re planning to hold the Bicycle Recycle event this fall, which will give students who might have had trouble getting a bike because of the shortage a chance to buy a bike refurbished by RecWell Bike Shop mechanics at a low price,” Plewinski said. See the BikeUMD website for details, and if you have a bike you’d like to donate, fill out this form.
New roads, detours and closures
In March, just as the campus was shutting down due to COVID-19, the road network on the north side of campus was permanently changed, and two new roads—one that loops around the Cambridge Community, and the other that loops around the Ellicott Community were opened.
“This network reconfiguration was part of the North Campus dorms and dining hall project that is under way,” said Katie Stouffs Grimes, strategic communications program director for the Department of Facilities Management. “For returning students, this will be a change.”
And on a campus with so much in motion, occasionally, things must come to a stop as well, including a road closure at Cole Field House on Field House Drive that is expected to last through Sept. 12 and a lane closure on Stadium Drive starting in November next to the E.A. Fernandez IDEA Factory construction site.
For a list of closures or reroutes related to the light rail Purple Line, visit the project’s construction updates page and click "College Park."