City Council discusses possible UMD shuttle agreement
BY GRANT WHITTINGTON — On October 6, the Hyattsville City Council discussed a proposed agreement that would allow non-student residents to ride the UMD shuttle from various spots in Hyattsville to the University of Maryland. The shuttle currently serves the City as a way for University students to commute back and forth from the campus to Hyattsville, but the new agreement will open ridership up too all residents.
In exchange for 1,000 bus passes to be made available to Hyattsville residents, the City must pay $6,000 to the University of Maryland. Councilmembers say they have already allotted $5,000 out of the budget for the system and don’t consider the extra cost to be a burden. The City will have the ability to request more passes for free if they run out, but neither Greenbelt or College Park have come close to 1,000.
The UMD 113-Hyattsville shuttle route connects the campus with many areas of Hyattsville including University Hills neighborhoods, the University Town Center, Mosaic at Metro, the Mall at Prince Georges, the Prince George’s Plaza Metro, the Metro Shoppes, neighborhoods adjoining Queensbury Road, the Historic District and the Arts District.
— City of Hyattsville memo on the UMD Shuttle program
The Council deliberated possible age restrictions and registration fees in order to obtain one of the 1,000 bus passes. Most of the councilmembers agreed that the system would work more fluidly and effectively if the shuttle were provided free of charge in the pilot year and if there were no age restriction.
As written in a memo provided by Assistant City Administrator Jim Chandler, Hyattsville is considering an age restriction on who can ride the shuttle unaccompanied without parental permission at 18. The executive director of the shuttle program expressed to the City concern College Park Academy students using the shuttle to get to school, according to City documents.
College Park and Greenbelt both have similar agreements with the University, but allow non-student residents of any age to ride the bus. Councilmember Patrick Paschall (Ward 3) said he thinks Hyattsville should model after the already established systems and not have an age restriction.
“It’s not been a problem for other jurisdictions and I don’t see any reason there should be a problem for our jurisdiction,” Paschall said.
Councilmember Edouard Haba (Ward 4Four) agreed with Paschall and feels there should be no age restriction, because the other cities have excelled with their current system.
“I don’t think we need to put that extra burden on the residents. I don’t see the restriction as something to do,” Haba said.
The Council came to an agreement to not charge residents in the first year, and react to the demand of the passes to see if they charge moving forward.
Councilmember Shani Warner (Ward 2) adamantly said riding the shuttle the first year should be free, because otherwise it may make people doubt purchasing their ticket and experiencing the fun the campus just three miles north of Hyattsville has to offer.
“We are trying to make [residents] experience living in Hyattsville better. It’s a great idea for it to be free the first year,” Warner said at the meeting.
Most of the Council shared Warner’s opinion, including councilmember Clayton Williams (Ward 5).
“I say this is a public good we are providing and that any fee isn’t going to balance out the effort required to handle such fee,” Williams said.
If approved, the agreement with UMD would run from November 1, 2014 to October 31, 2015.
October 6 UMD shuttle discusion