CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program as a scholarship that allows students to spend two years at Duke University after their sophomore year at UNC. Rather, this is a program where students are afforded resources at both universities and spend the second semester of their sophomore year at the opposite campus.
This year, students — and particularly Robertson Scholars — will have a different way of commuting to and from Duke University’s campus.
Previously, this transportation route was offered through GoTriangle’s bus transportation services, but it will now be offered through Carolina Livery Transportation and known as the Robertson Express. Carolina Livery is a charter bus shuttle service offering a variety of different transportation services in the area.
“Carolina Livery is a local charter transportation company, so we do a lot of ground transportation. Notably, at UNC, we also run the disability shuttle for all of the football and basketball home games,” Jennifer McMorrow, director of Carolina Livery, said.
McMorrow said the 22-passenger shuttle will run every hour. After Monday Aug. 26, the shuttle will run every half hour seven days a week from the Morehead Planetarium parking lot at UNC and Chapel Drive at Duke.
“The Robertson Express specifically is a new service for us, and it’s going to be running on the same schedule as it historically has been, but we’ve made some efforts to reduce the carbon footprint," McMorrow said. "And also to right-size the vehicles to make sure we’re not driving a huge transit bus for four or five people at a time.”
The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program (RSLP) decided to reach out to Carolina Livery for transportation between the two campuses following the announcement that GoTriangle would no longer service that particular route, Allen Chan, executive director of the program, said.
Some of the most frequent users of the GoTriangle service were scholars within RSLP. This is a scholarship program that allows students to take select classes on Duke’s campus before ultimately spending two years on Duke’s campus after the second semester of their sophomore year.
“The premise was always from the very beginning that half of the cohort would be officially Duke students and the other half would be officially UNC-Chapel Hill students,” Chan said. “That being said, when they matriculate to one or the other universities, they actually have full rights and privileges at the sister campus, as well.”
Chan said one of the goals of this program was to tie together two great universities that reside only nine miles apart from each other, which requires transportation between the two schools.
However, the new Robertson Express will be available to more than just Robertson Scholars. Though Robertson Scholars ride for free with their ID cards, anyone affiliated with UNC will have access to the shuttle services for a one-dollar fee with their ID card.
Anyone not associated with the school may ride the shuttle for a two-dollar charge, which, like the one-dollar charge, will be payable via cash or card. There will also be a more long-term payment plan for those who need to take the shuttle more frequently.
“We are offering basically gift cards which we are calling ride packs, and those are being sold in denominations that are worth $50 or $100 of rides, but they’ll be sold at a 20 percent discount,” McMorrow said. “So anyone who knows that they’re making a weekly roundtrip or something they can budget it sort of up front and just buy the gift card once at the beginning of the semester for a bit of a discount.”
The shuttle itself will also offer amenities such as wifi, charging stations for electronics and ADA-compliant wheelchair accessibility, in addition to lowering the carbon footprint for transportation services to Duke, Chan said.
“We wanted it to be a cleaner option, cleaner from a carbon footprint standpoint, than what it had been in the past,” Chan said. “The estimates are that our carbon footprint is now reduced by 75 percent.”
Information, as well as times for the shuttle service, are accessible at robertsonexpress.org for those interested in finding transportation to or from Duke’s campus from UNC.
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