With about 61,000 students constantly buzzing on and off UCF's campus for class, work, study sessions and meetings, someone has to take charge of making sure students are taken care of when it comes to their modes of transportation. Cue UCF Parking Services.
Many students know that Parking Services sells parking permits and issues tickets to illegally parked or permitless vehicles. However, it does a lot more than just issue parking permits and decals.
Parking Services is responsible for patrolling, maintaining and dealing with debt obligations on 33 lots and nine parking garages. In addition, it is also charged with running multiple transportation-related services that help keep students and faculty on the move, both on and off campus.
UCF runs more than 40 free shuttles that serve students both on and off campus, said Anand "Andy" Rampersad, assistant director of operations for Parking and Transportation Services. The Black and Gold on-campus shuttle lines run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the fall and spring semesters and provide a way for students to move around campus with ease.
Students can also take advantage of the grocery shuttle, which runs from campus to the Publix supermarket in the University Palms shopping center. Shuttles run every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and make stops at Marketplace, Academic Village, Towers and Lake Claire.
Fourteen shuttle routes transport students between the main campus, 19 off-campus apartment complexes and Central Florida Research Park from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Shuttles also serve students at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, the Health Sciences campus at Lake Nona and, in the future, the Downtown Orlando campus.
"We transport over 1.8 million passengers annually, which could potentially keep over 7,000 single-occupancy vehicles off our campus," Rampersad said.
Another option for those without cars of their own is Zipcar, a membership-based car-sharing program that currently has seven rental cars on campus. UCF students can sign up for a $35 annual membership and make car reservations billable by either the hour or day. Gas, insurance, reserved parking spots, roadside assistance and up to 180 miles of driving per day are included, according to the UCF Parking Services website.
"Zipcar isn't free, but I've used it and thought that [it] was pretty good," said Jason Donnelly, a junior nursing major. "[It's] pretty expensive, but if you're using all of the miles that they give you, then it evens out."
Donnelly said Zipcar is especially useful since people normally can't rent cars until at least the age of 21.
"Since we're affiliated with UCF, we're allowed to rent the Zipcars at 18, as long as we have a clean driving record," Donnelly said.
Additionally, carpooling is available in the form of the Zimride program, which connects UCF students with similar schedules for carpooling purposes. The program aims to help students protect the environment and save money at the same time.
"Over 4,000 UCF constituents utilize our carpooling options to reduce the parking demand on campus," Rampersad said.
Membership is free, and anyone with a UCF email is eligible to sign up for the private UCF Zimride community.
Park and Ride
For those who want to avoid hunting for a parking spot in the most coveted lots and garages, the Park and Ride program allows students to park in UCF's off-site parking lot — located adjacent to lot E4 across from Bright House Networks Stadium — and shuttles them to the Health and Public Affairs building.
The complimentary shuttles run every 15 minutes Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during peak semesters.
If you're ever having car problems on campus, UCF also offers free vehicle-assistance services.
"Most UCF students and employees know we can help them with parking and moving around campus, but they may not know we're ready to step in when there's a flat tire, dead battery or keys locked in the car, too," Rampersad said.
The vehicle-assistance services have been around for more than 10 years, Rampersad said. UCF Parking Services can help students inflate tires, jump start and unlock their vehicles. Additionally, it can assist students by giving directions and helping them call a tow truck when needed.
To request help, students can call 407-823-5555.
Danielle Hendrix is a News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @dhendrix21 or email her at Danielleh@CentralFloridaFuture.com.