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What You Need to Know in Fall 2023: Getting Around Campus

Purple Line Construction, New Micromobility Changes Will Affect Terps This Semester

By Chris Carroll

light rail tracks on Campus Drive

Newly laid tracks for the state's light-rail Purple Line project extend up Campus Drive. For now, Terps are altering their routes to accommodate construction of the major transit initiative.

Photo by Riley Sims Ph.D. ’23

Terps trekking across campus this fall will discover changes beyond just traffic patterns, including more pedestrian-friendly improvements along Baltimore Avenue, a new focus on privately owned e-scooters and e-bikes, and upgrades to the Shuttle-UM app.

Purple Line
The central intersection of Regents and Campus drives is a crossroads once more, after months in a U-shaped configuration then a summer largely shut down to accommodate accelerated construction of the state’s Purple Line project.

Terps will now navigate through a three-way stop, just one of the ways their routes have been adjusted this fall around construction of the light-rail route slated to open in spring 2027. Five of the route’s 21 stations, which will extend from New Carrollton in Prince George’s County to Bethesda in Montgomery County, will be located on or around the UMD campus—ultimately better connecting the university with the surrounding region while easing commutes.

Watch for other following Purple Line closures and impacts this fall:

  • ADA-compliant pedestrian detours stretch across campus and are shown on maps current through Friday, and maps beginning Saturday.
  • Right-turn access to Union Lane from one-way Campus Drive at the Stamp Student Union is unavailable through Saturday (see detour map). Union Lane Garage can be accessed from Fieldhouse Drive.
  • Campus Drive is closed from Regents Drive near Symons Hall to Union Lane from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily, except during major campus events. See the attached map for the vehicle detour route.
  • Union Drive between Campus Drive near the Benjamin Building and Championship Drive is closed (see map).
  • Rossborough Lane is closed west of Baltimore Avenue near Turner Hall and Rossborough Inn. Reach lot C1 via the southbound Baltimore Avenue lot entrance; exit to Regents Drive using a new connector road to Lot L. East of Baltimore Avenue, the road is closed near Diamondback Drive.

Find the most up-to-date road closures and detours at UMD’s Purple Line website.

Baltimore Avenue
The $29 million upgrade of Baltimore Avenue in College Park continues, including a new median, new bike lanes, widened sidewalks, resurfaced roadways and improved street lighting.

The 1.4-mile effort, led by the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, will enhance safety for pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists and motorists in one of the region’s most traveled and important corridors.

The section of Baltimore Avenue from Regents Drive/College Avenue to the bridge just north of Campus Drive is complete, with the exception of the Rossborough Lane intersection. The remaining section through University Boulevard is expected to be done in 2024.

After a pause in operations for part of August, the familiar black-and-green Veo e-bikes and e-scooters were back on campus for the start of the semester.

Starting Oct. 2, privately owned ones must be registered with the Department of Transportation Services (DOTS).

“There’s been an obvious expansion of private micromobility vehicles on campus, so we’d like to understand the landscape better,” said Emily Cosci, DOTS assistant director of communications. Such knowledge will allow the university to communicate with owners of the vehicles about new regulations and safety information, facilitate bike and scooter infrastructure planning, and even make users eligible for services like lock-cutting if they lose a key or forget a combination, she said. Read more about registration and FAQs.

[Take our e-scooter and micromobility safety quiz.]

Parking permits and registration procedures are unchanged from last year, but there are a few new wrinkles in the race to get the best space.

  • Regents Drive Garage reopened last week after a planned maintenance project, which included the addition of 85 visitor spaces.
  • Additional ADA-accessible parking has been added to Lot BB near the Patuxent Building.
  • Part of Lot C1 has permanently closed and shifted in front of Turner Hall to accommodate Purple Line construction.

Parking lots will be full this year, especially in the first few weeks of the semester, Cosci said. She recommended building in extra time to park, and calling the DOTS customer service line at 301.314.3687 for help if you can’t find a space.

And one more thing: “If you’re coming from out of state and only have a rear license plate, don’t back in,” she said. “If we can’t read your license plate, it’s a violation and you could be cited.”

Shuttle-UM, Paratransit and Nite Ride
What’s the haps? New and improved apps.

DOTS’ Transit app now includes real-time bus arrival information in addition to route planning and other amenities. Meanwhile, the new Terp Ride app allows users of UMD’s Paratransit and Nite Ride services to easily request rides and see an estimated time of arrival, the location of the van, and the vehicle’s make and license plate number, all to improve riders’ safety.

[Read about UMD’s plan to replace diesel buses with electric ones.]

Shuttle-UM’s routes are largely unchanged, although some have been adjusted to accommodate Purple Line construction. See the fall schedules.

DOTS is looking to hire drivers for both Shuttle-UM buses and Paratransit/Nite Ride vans. In addition to pay of up to $18.50 an hour for bus drivers, students can be trained and qualify for a commercial driver’s license for free.

“We love to have student drivers, and DOTS is a great place to work,” Cosci said. “And once they’re done working for us, they still have the CDL, which can be a valuable asset throughout life.”

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.