Valencia and UCF students can now take advantage of a new grocery shuttle bus in the Downtown Orlando area. The UCF Parking and Transportation, alongside the UCF Student Government, have launched the shuttle bus to assist students with their monthly groceries. Students will be picked up and dropped off at a designated location in Downtown Orlando. The bus will then travel to a local Publix, giving students the opportunity to shop.
The shuttle bus services started on Oct. 6 and have continued every two weeks. The next scheduled shuttle will arrive on Nov. 3. The service is being offered throughout the fall semester. The new shuttle bus will make a trip through Downtown Orlando, picking up and dropping off students at The Dr. Phillips Academic Commons on W. Livingston St. -conveniently located near the Valencia College Downtown Campus. The bus will take the students to the Publix located at The Paramount at Lake Eola.
Rodney Graham, director of Student Affairs & Student Government at UCF, says the goal is to meet the demands of Downtown students. “We heard about students having to walk 30 minutes just to get some groceries from the store. The Downtown campus is definitely a food desert for our students. We definitely want to meet those needs”. The program was launched by UCF for Downtown students to take advantage, like they do at the UCF main campus. However, the shuttle services were designed with Valencia students in mind,” Graham says
There is no bus fare or payment required, the only requirement is a valid Valencia or UCF ID. The UCF main campus has a similar program, providing students with shuttle bus services every Tuesday several times a day. There are plans for expansion to other campuses, if the demand and volume requires it. Graham and other UCF staff stress the importance of students from both colleges to use this service. Graham explains they are “just making sure that students continue to use the service so we have the numbers to say that this is what students need and can continue on a long-term basis”.
Two UCF students -first time riders of the Downtown shuttle service- were excited to have the services available to all students. They are hoping more students take advantage of the service so it can stick around. One of the students says she used the services at the main campus and is grateful there’s now one in the Downtown area. She appreciates the colleges doing this for the students.
Katherine Hurley, a current Valencia student and Downtown resident, was unaware this service was being provided in her area. She said “Wow, that’s really cool,” after being told of the shuttle bus and what it has to offer. “I think that is so great for the college to be doing. In 2020, we all need any help we can get,” Hurley continued. Megan, a UCF freshman who lives in Downtown hopes the services stick around. “I, myself, don’t have a car. I don’t have any other way to the grocery store.” Many students have said the shuttle service is a way to save money, eliminating the expense of Uber. Others are using the services to avoid walking or traveling on the city bus with groceries.
Staff and student riders are encouraging both Valencia and UCF students to participate and take advantage of the grocery shuttle services. The Livingston Departure times on service days are at 12:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., according to the UCF website. Shuttles will leave the Publix at 1:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., allowing students one hour and 15 minutes to shop. Student riders are required to wear a face covering when on the bus and in Publix. The capacity level on the shuttle has been decreased by 20% to minimize crowding on the bus. Safety is a priority.
For more information, please visit https://www.ucf.edu/downtown/transportation/ or email the shuttle service at [email protected]