Be aware of commuter pitfalls when planning commute to campus

Broadcasting senior Iridiana Barcenas thought she was ready for her first day of school. Her bags were packed, and the car’s gas tank was full. But when she got in the car and turned the key, nothing happened. 

After trying again with the same result, she realized her car had died. She called family members and friends, but no one was available.

Commuter students like Barcenas face various challenges getting to school, including traffic, vehicle issues and parking. Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to handle.

“First I cried and prayed to God and the Virgin Mary,” Barcenas said. 

Instead of waiting for divine intervention, she purchased a bus ticket and decided to use public transportation to take her to class. 

She hopped on the bus, and before she realized what was going on, she was dropped off in Downtown Dallas — the opposite direction of Arlington and UTA for the Carrollton resident. 

“I got off on the wrong exit,” Barcenas said. “I used Uber [to go home.] It was a bad first day of college.” 

Criminal justice senior Cristian Gallegos, who also commutes to school, said it made sense financially to save money by living off campus and commuting. The only problem was getting to class on time. 

One day while running late for an exam, he decided to take a shortcut by making a left turn. Unfortunately, a street sign indicated no left turns. Even more unfortunately, a police officer was there to witness his mistake that day.

“I said ‘I’m in a hurry,’” he recalled. “I’ve got an exam, and you’re wasting my time.” 

Gallegos said the officer chuckled at his joke but still wrote him a traffic citation.

His time mismanagement led him to find parking in the staff parking areas. Risk it for a ticket, he said.

His risks did not pay off. He said he has received 20 or more tickets per year in the six years he has been at UTA. 

Parking without a permit can result in a $55 citation, while parking in an ADA-accessible space is a $250 citation, according to the Parking and Transportation Services website. 

Athletic training alumnus Ivan Garcia recalled when the Maverick Activities Center had a large parking lot before it was converted into a garage.

Garcia said he drove to school from his home in Fort Worth. To ensure that he would get to his 8 a.m. class on time, he would wake up at 6:40 a.m. to get ready and have breakfast.

His strategy didn’t work on the days he had mid-morning starting classes.

“When I arrived on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it was like going to war trying to find a parking spot there,” Garcia said. “You had to hunt people down coming out of the MAC and follow them, stalk them until they got into their car. It got that bad at certain times.” 

With UTA planning to offer a majority of fall 2021 classes in person, the increase in commuters could drive up the demand for parking. 

Something as simple as listening to the radio or Spotify can make commuting easier, Gallegos said. And leaving as early as possible is essential. 

Although living at home saved money, Barcenas said she misses the coffee shops around campus. She says she would frequent them to unwind and get some studying done, but now it doesn’t make much sense to travel close to an hour to campus.

“It sucks being a commuter. It’s difficult,” Barcenas said. “If you’re a commuter, you have to move yourself around. A lot of things can happen, and it’s just you.”  

@sportsestrada

sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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