The University of Maryland’s DOTS announced multiple bus route cuts and reductions Tuesday to compensate for a budget deficit of at least $700,000, Executive Director David Allen said.
Starting July 1, the #142 Columbia Park & Ride route will be completely eliminated, as will weekend service for the #104 College Park Metro Station route and the #133 Mall at Prince George’s route.
The cuts will also limit weekend service for #116 Purple, #117 Blue, #118 Gold and #122 Green routes to after 5:30 p.m., according to the Department of Transportation Services announcement.
“There really are no good service reduction options because all of our routes…they really do serve part of the university community,” said DOTS spokesperson Cara Fleck.
Other routes will see a decrease in bus frequency during weekdays, including #104 College Park Metro Station, #143 Greenbelt and #105 Campus Connector, the announcement said.
The time between buses for the Metro Station and the Campus Connector routes will only increase by two to four minutes, while the Greenbelt route will increase by 50 minutes, according to the announcement.
The budget shortfall was caused partly by a decrease in campus parking availability due to new construction such as the expansion of Cole Field House. This will create a decrease in visitor parking revenue for the department.
The deficit is also due in part to the planned construction of an underground parking garage near Chapel Field, which is expected to begin early next year and take about two years, Allen said.
This semester, the Committee for Review of Student Fees rejected a DOTS proposal for a $47 increase in commuter parking fees and a $97 increase in resident parking fees that intended to account for the shortfall.
The route reductions are anticipated to last for the 2019 fiscal year — from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, according to the department’s website. Fleck said that the routes may be restored depending on the future budget.
“We’re going to be regularly assessing the need for route adjustments through a regular budget review,” Fleck said. “Ideally, we would like to reintroduce these routes, but it depends on the financial outlook as well.”
The deficit has also resulted in internal cuts for DOTS, preventing the department from hiring more employees in the future, Fleck said, emphasizing that no employees will be fired due to the deficit.
The department recommended the Metrobus and Prince George’s County bus system, as well as bike-sharing program mBike and car-rental service Zipcar, as alternative modes of transportation for the modified and reduced routes, in a DOTS transit navigation guide.
“We do believe that there are many transportation alternatives that can soften the impact of the modifications,” Fleck said.
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated construction on an underground parking garage near Chapel Field would begin later this year. It will begin early next year. This article has been updated.