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COC students offered free bus rides

Plan may help relieve parking problems at Valencia campus

Posted: May 31, 2009 10:20 p.m.
Updated: June 1, 2009 10:00 a.m.
In the hopes of relieving the parking crunch at College of the Canyons, the community college and city of Santa Clarita plan to offer free bus rides at the start of the fall semester.

"For the first three weeks of the fall semester, College of the Canyons students would be able to ride to and from the Valencia campus using Santa Clarita Transit at no charge," said Darren Hernandez, interim transit manager for the city of Santa Clarita.

The pilot project comes as fall semester saw a 19-percent spike in enrollment as a stagnant economy is encouraging out-of-work people to return to school.

"Last fall and spring (semesters), we had an overwhelming enrollment at the college and actually ran out of parking during the peak periods of attendance," said Michael Wilding, vice president of student services for the college.

In an attempt to relieve the parking crunch, the college asked the city of Santa Clarita about forming a partnership to allow students to ride the bus for free, he said.

The idea comes as other community colleges often work with transit agencies to provide public transportation for students, Wilding said.

Before the start of the spring semester, the college also encouraged students to carpool, ride their bikes and attend classes on the College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus as ways to reduce the parking situation at the Valencia campus, he said.

The first weeks of the new semester are especially busy as students spend more time on campus adjusting their class schedules, Wilding said. Also, off-site classes will typically meet at the college campus during the first few sessions of class, he said.

The peak periods are typically 8 to 11 a.m. Monday through Thursday, Wilding said.

"All of that combined creates parking demands," Wilding said.

The pilot phase will allow for the college and city to gather ridership data so that it can be determined whether to extend the program and if the community college would be able to subsidize student public transportation, he said.


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