Five Star Coaches purchased five buses for $300,000 to use on the TRAC shuttle system, said Harry Noble III, the company’s operations manager.
The lot, located south of the Tucker Technology Center, will lose 307 commuter parking spaces when the shuttle system starts operation in August, police chief Steven McGee said.
The TRAC shuttle system is designed to alleviate traffic headaches for commuters, and will operate from the freshmen overflow parking lot, located north of Amon Carter Stadium’s north end zone.
Five Star Coaches, a company that also runs shuttle systems for Southwest Airlines and area hospitals, was contacted by the TCU police department about 60 days ago to run the system, Noble said.
“We are not involved in the construction process. We were told to have a shuttle system ready for March 1, and then it was pushed back to March 22. Now we don’t know when to have it ready,” McGee said.
The company is waiting to see if TCU officials will reimburse it for a part of the cost of the buses since there is a delay, Noble said.
Mills said he is disappointed in the delay and doesn’t expect Five Star Coaches to “swallow all of the cost of the buses because that would be bad business practice.”
Five Star Coaches was planning on moving seven of its current employees to be drivers on the shuttle system and had not hired any new employees before hearing of the delay, Noble said.
Five Star Coaches will still run the shuttle system when it begins next semester, Noble said.
Noble declined to comment on how much money TCU officials are paying the company to run the transportation system.
Once the system begins, five shuttle buses will begin two routes from the freshman overflow parking lot and will continue to either the Student Center or to the east side of campus.
The overflow lot has 800 parking spaces, Mills said.
The routes will run from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on school days and depart every 10 minutes, McGee said.
“We want to provide continuous service,” McGee said. “We want to have 10-minute departures so students, faculty and staff don’t have to wait forever.”
Unlike the Worth Hills routes, which are published public routes that are difficult to change, the TRAC routes are flexible and can easily be adjusted because Five Star Coaches is a private company, assistant police chief J.C. Williams said.
Besides the shuttle system, three additional parking lots will be constructed over the summer to provide extra parking space for commuters, Mills said.
One 400-space lot will be located where the Bellaire Condominiums stand today, another 80-spot lot will be located across from Dan Rogers Hall on Lubbock and another lot will be constructed behind the police station, Mills said.
The Bellaire Condominiums and the five rental homes TCU currently owns on Lubbock will be demolished to build the lots, Mills said.
Mills said these parking lots will not necessarily be permanent.
“When you look long-term, there will be new buildings at TCU,” he said. “These buildings will likely be built on parking lots. That’s why it’s important to get the shuttle system going.”