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Council Favors Shuttle-UM Serving All Greenbelt Citizens

Council votes to give David Moran authority to negotiate an MOU for city use of Shuttle-UM.

, council discussed the view that HB 1005, legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly, opens up the door for Greenbelt residents to ride the University of Maryland Shuttle (Shuttle-UM) if the city enters into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the university and pays a fee.

The mayor and others discussed their expectation that the fee might be around $5,000, based on what the university has charged the City of College Park.

Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan told council that he thought Franklin Park could greatly benefit and that from the schedule it looked like the span of service would be extended somewhat. It seems like a win-win, he said.

Shuttle-UM Greenbelt Routes

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The first four routes serve Greenbelt in the fall and spring. Shuttle-UM does not run when the university is closed (such as during holidays, spring break and inclement weather).

  • 106 Franklin Park Greenbelt (Summer Only)
  • 119 Greenbelt South (Summer Only)

Charge a Fee or Let Citizens Ride Free

Mayor Judith “J” Davis thought charging citizens something, even as little as $5 for an annual pass might be of benefit in inspiring citizens to use it. Council member Leta Mach agreed on the basis of people not valuing what they get for free.

Bill Orleans came out of the audience to the podium to raise a concern, recalling the history of the shuttle. If Greenbelt charged an administrative fee, he suggested it could approach payment and potentially cause the shuttles to be considered common carriers. He felt most university systems didn’t want to be designated with common carrier status because it would open them up to other regulations.

Benefits of Shuttle-UM Service

GHI board of directors member David Morse addressed council as a citizen, saying he strongly encouraged Greenbelt to follow up because the university was a tremendous resource. The vastness of the university's library as a resource for research was of particular interest to him. He said that he was given to understand it had around 3 million volumes on its College Park campus.

He also thought opening the shuttle service to residents would foster a relationship with the university that would affect the atmosphere in Greenbelt, including aspirations for higher education among children.

“It would be crazy not to take advantage of something like this,” Morse proclaimed.

Council unanimously passed a motion giving David Moran, Assistant City Manager, authority to negotiate the terms of an MOU with the university, which would be for one year. Mayor Davis asked Moran to look into whether the city could charge an administrative fee without running afoul of anything.

Dawn Mooney September 15, 2011 at 05:47 PM
While I think this is a fabulous service, as well, as one of the UMD employees who uses this service every day, I'm concerned about the volume. The morning routes and evening routes that I use are PACKED already, and any additional passengers would make this experience go from uncomfortable to perhaps dangerous. Is it possible for this endeavor to include an increase in actual runs/service from the University?
Joe September 16, 2011 at 01:38 AM
I agree with Dawn. Although it seems selfish, it doesn't seem appropriate to increase volume, especially on certain routes. Additionally, I wonder, if the idea is that this would be a way for residents to get to the University, whether there is a way to ensure that non-UMD students/staff only enter/exit the shuttle on campus? That might alleviate some concerns about citizens using Shuttle UM as a regular bus? Granted, some of the Shuttle UM routes probably don't have many stops that would be of interest to non-students, but at least I could imagine that non-students might be interested in catching a bus from their residence to campus, and then use the 104 to get to the College Park Metro station, for example.

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