COAST Program Marks Sixth Year of Serving UH Community
In an effort to better serve UH’s ever-growing campus and community, Parking and Transportation Services launched the Coogs on Alternate and Sustainable Transportation (COAST) program back in 2016.
Six years later, the program is still offering eligible students, faculty and staff incentives to carpool or utilize alternative and sustainable options to get to campus. Following a downward trend in the number of people participating in the program as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the program is once again seeing those numbers rise.
As of February, COAST had a total of 4,027 participants. Of those, 2,914 were students. The program had seen its numbers drop to 2,775 in December 2020 during the height of the pandemic, when campus was closed and classes were held virtually. In February 2020 – right before the pandemic struck – COAST had, 4,431 participants.
When COAST was launched, it was done with the intent to align with a critical goal of the University's long-term growth plan that aims to minimize the number of vehicles being used to get to campus and lowering the city’s carbon footprint.
In order to participate in COAST, a person cannot have a valid UH parking permit. The only exception to that are the COAST carpool permits.
The program has several different incentive components. Participants can only participate in one of them. They include:
METRO public transportation (buses and light rail)
METRO Star Vanpools
(Another incentive – Zipcar – is currently on hold because of Covid-19.)
Of these incentives, the most popular has been the METRO public transportation. In February, that incentive had 2,914 participants, of which 2,557 were students.
Students receive $27.50 each month toward their METRO fare for joining, faculty / staff members receive 50% of their monthly METRO fare if using local bus and rail to commute, and faculty / staff members commuting on the METRO Park and Ride receive 25% of their monthly METRO fare.
For those in a three-person carpool, the cost of a carpool permit is 50% off the price of a faculty-staff garage permit (split among all carpool members). For a carpool of four or more, the cost is 75% off. All carpool spaces are located in parking garages.
COAST members receive $27.50/month toward vanpool costs. Each member receives 12 full-day parking vouchers a year, for use should an emergency or scheduling conflict arise. The vouchers are valid for the visitor section of a garage.
Those who choose this option can select one of two options: $25/month in ride credits, or $10/month in ride credits plus $15/month in METRO fare money.
Members get 20 parking garage validations per year for those times when they need to drive. They also receive an annual $50 voucher toward goods and services at one of a handful of participating bicycle shops. There were nine students and 14 faculty-staff who were members of the cycling incentive as of February.
Individuals who are interested in participating in COAST or learning more about it can reach out to the COAST team by sending an email to COAST@uh.edu or making an appointment through Cougar Q in AccessUH to come to the customer service location in University Lofts, Suite 101.