UF Transportation and Parking Services has added a new shuttle to the university.
The new route, called the Campus Connector, allows students and residents to commute down Newell Drive starting Tuesday, said UF spokesperson Steve Orlando. It will run Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
With seven stops, the service begins at Rinker Hall and finishes at the UF Health Circle of Hope. Lines are walk-on, meaning riders do not have to present a Gator 1 ID when boarding, Orlando said.
“The route will be running in the foreseeable future, provided high ridership,” Orlando said.
The Campus Connector route employs three new workers and uses three new shuttle buses, said Jeremiah McInnis, UF Transportation and Parking Services’ transportation manager. Buses will accommodate 20 passengers and two wheelchair users.
The estimated cost for the new route is $328,730, said Scott Fox, senior director for UF Transportation and Parking Service. A one time cost for three new shuttle buses was $186,000, and three new drivers have a total salary of $142,729.60.
Transportation and Parking services is an auxiliary service, meaning that student payments, like parking decals and parking fines, generate their funding to operate, Fox said. Neither the university nor Student Government cover costs associated with new ventures similar to the Campus Connector.
The money to create the route came out from a reserved fund made for unforeseen opportunities or collaborations with services like the Regional Transit System (RTS). Fox called it a significant initiative.
“You never know what opportunity will come along or how much you’d need to invest,” he said. “When opportunity knocks, you want to have the money to answer the door.”
Sammi Wicks, an 18-year-old UF elementary and special education sophomore, is excited for a more direct route towards her volunteering center. Once a week, Wicks commutes to Baby Gator, a daycare center for children of UF employees and assists staff with the children.
Baby Gator is the fifth stop on the campus connector, and Wicks said she’ll have a lot more money now since the route is in service.
“I usually just Uber to Baby Gator when I go volunteer,” she said. “Now that this route exists, it’ll be easier for me to get down there to volunteer with the cute kids.”
This story was updated on 8/20/19 to reflect the cost and drivers of the new route.