Next stop, Huntsville

This may be the era of high gas prices and cramped parking conditions on campus, but help is on the way. On Monday, August 18, the Brazos Transit District with Sam Houston State launched its public shuttle, connecting SHSU to the Woodlands via I-45.

Two Sam Shuttle busses run the circuit between the university and the Conroe-Woodlands area – one from morning until late afternoon and one from early afternoon to night — with a seating capacity of 57 people per trip with extra standing room.

Upon arrival in Huntsville, the shuttle will drop students off at Bowers Stadium and the flag pole outside of Johnson Coliseum. On the flip side, students can be dropped off or picked up in the Outlets of Conroe Lot on League Line Road and I-45, the main entrance lot for Lone Star College on College Park Drive, at the Portofino Shopping Center in Shenandoah or the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands.

Students interested in taking the shuttle must purchase a parking ticket if they want to park their car on campus. Stadium parking costs $25 for those interested in parking and riding from campus, according to the official Sam Shuttle website.

The program first entered the planning stages about four years ago and is expected to aid over 400 faculty and staff and 2,700 commuter students from Montgomery and Harris counties, according to Dr. Heather Crowson, vice president for enrollment management.

“One of the things we were looking at was the economy and how it was going to affect enrollment, and also how we were being affected as faculty and staff,” Crowson said. “[It will] help students, faculty and staff with some of the economic factors that were going to come into play.”

According to Steven Sumner, chairman of the Montgomery County Task Force, the shuttle accomplishes two major tasks, transporting students and faculty to campus and helping The Woodlands job market.

“We’re very hopeful that a lot of students and faculty will use it,” Sumner said.

The cost of the shuttle is $4 per ticket and $8 for a round-trip. Passengers can purchase them individually or in a book of 40 from the Office of Enrollment Management in Smith Kirkley Room 144, in the Rec Center.

Ticket sales for the Sam Shuttle went on sale on August 15 and until August 29, tickets will be for sale on the shuttle itself. Credit or debit cards are not accepted, but correct cash and checks can be used.

This week is the shuttle’s second week of operation. So far, the shuttle will run on the established schedule with the possibility of expansion.

Since the service is still in its early stages, Sumner said future changes and expansions are a definite possibility. “We’re going to look in probably six months at the end of spring semester and see how many people use the shuttle itself.”

According to Crowson, the university hopes to eventually expand service to connect Huntsville to the Bryan/College Station region on Highway 30.

As the northernmost stop on the shuttle as well as a major source for passengers, the organizers are looking at Sam Houston State participants to help make the shuttle a success.

“Sam’s a big part of this; parking is an issue on campus so this does several things,” Sumner said. “It helps take care of parking, helps get students on campus, it helps get workers down here and works on the pollution in the Houston-Galveston area and helps cut down on emissions.”

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