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Free Nights and Weekends with Bus Pass Program

It sounds like a cell-phone plan, but these free nights and weekends are about parking on campus. It’s another benefit for participants in a new bus pass program, designed to reduce the number of cars coming to campus each day. 

The initiative, which gives a free Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) monthly bus pass to employees and students who surrender their University Campus parking or shuttle pass, was officially launched this spring. To date, nearly a dozen individuals have signed up. And while interest has been strong, many who inquire about the program are not aware that they can still park on campus during off-peak times, said Bill Tsaknopoulos, UMass Chan director of auxiliary services. “People like the idea of riding the bus to work, but need to be able occasionally to come in at night to check on experiments or attend meetings. So we’ve got that covered,” he explained. 

Parking is available for bus pass holders in the new South Road garage, Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and anytime on weekends and holidays, Tsaknopoulos said. “They just need their employee identification badge to access the garage.” 

Daniel Keifenheim, a third-year student in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, became interested in the program when he read about it in the Growing Green email newsletter. He was one of the first people to surrender his parking pass. “It’s a lot easier to commute by bus than by car,” said Keifenheim, who lives a block from a WRTA bus stop in downtown Worcester. “It costs less, and you don’t have the hassle of finding a parking space.” 

At the present time, employees, who are not in the parking program, are not eligible for the free WRTA bus pass. However, Tsaknopoulos said in time the program will be re-evaluated and additional features added, if needed. “This is considered phase-one of the program. We’re also working with the WRTA to add bus stops that would make it more convenient for UMass Chan staff to ride the bus to work.” 

To sign up for the program, bring your current hanging parking pass to the Parking and Access Control Office in Room HA531. For more information, call the office at 508-856-3630. 

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