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University of North Georgia student sees shuttle expansion idea come to fruition
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University of North Georgia Gainesville campus student Mallika Dinesh’s efforts have extended the school's shuttle to nearby apartments complexes on Tumbling Creek Road. - photo by Scott Rogers

The extension of a bus route from the University of North Georgia to off-campus apartment complexes where many students reside is the result of growth that Mallika Dinesh saw coming.

“I think we’re over capacity at the Gainesville campus,” she said about parking on site. “I think it came time to where they had to do something.”

With nearly 8,000 students at the Gainesville campus, UNG is experiencing demand at unprecedented levels.

According to the university website, “With rapidly increasing enrollment and growth, the University of North Georgia is providing shuttle services to aid students in finding and utilizing parking spaces near campus while parking expansion is underway.”

Dinesh is now a pursuing a master’s degree, but as an undergraduate two years ago in the university’s spatial analysis program, she proposed adding the apartment complexes to the shuttle service that had just launched.

She produced a map outlining a proposed route and submitted it to the dean of her department. Dinesh also spoke to student groups and the campus’ auxiliary services.

Two shuttles operate this year at the UNG Gainesville campus.

One makes a continuous loop to off-campus locations. From The Preserve at Tumbling Creek, the gold route includes stops at the shuttle lot, Columns apartments, Student Center and Nesbitt Building.

The shuttle previously ran only to an off-campus parking lot a half-mile or more from The Preserve at Tumbling Creek.

“People have to drive to the lot to park there and take the shuttle,” Dinesh said in a 2015 article published in The Times.

The Hugh Mills Gym and Continuing Education Building were dropped from the route recently, according to Sylvia Carson, UNG spokeswoman.

“The two stops were dropped to improve efficiency and convenience for riders,” Carson added. “These stops are less than 90 seconds from other stops on foot.”

A second shuttle, the blue route, loops from the shuttle lot on Frontage Road to the Columns apartments and onto the university campus.

“The apartment complexes were added to the route for sustainability reasons,” Carson said. “If those students that live there did not have to drive their cars to campus, that eliminates the number of vehicles, parking and paving of existing green space.”

Dinesh said the need for additional shuttle service is just the beginning of other growing pains UNG will experience as enrollment grows.

UNG has also added two high-occupancy vehicle lots this fall: Lot N, behind the Music Building, and Lot U, directly behind the parking deck next to the Nesbitt Building.

“To park in these lots there must be at least two people in the vehicle and they must have a valid UNG permit,” Carson said. “These are restricted as HOV lots between the hours of 7:30 and 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.”

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Two years ago University of North Georgia Gainesville campus student Mallika Dinesh proposed the UNG shuttle route could extend to nearby Tumbling Creek Road to pick up students at nearby apartments. Thanks to her efforts, the shuttle service passes by a bus stop at The Preserve at Tumbling Creek for students living in the apartments. - photo by Scott Rogers
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