Roadrunner Express Aims to Improve Access to College of the Desert Programs and Services Throughout Coachella Valley
PALM DESERT — Roadrunner Express will start its engine today, Jan. 29, to help ferry students from East and West Valley communities to College of the Desert as students begin classes for the spring term.
The service will be free.
The purpose of the service is to significantly improve access to College of the Desert programs and services throughout the Coachella Valley. The board approved a $378,705.60 contract for the service, which is designed to complement, not replace, Haul Pass, a program that provides free transportation to and from school as well as anywhere students need to go using public transit while enrolled in qualified college and high school institutions in the region.
Roadrunner Express will operate Monday through Thursday except holidays. Two busses will be making three trips per day. The buses are ADA accessible.
One bus will start on the East and the other will start on the West between 6:50 a.m. and 7 a.m. The first bus routes from the East and the West will arrive in Palm Desert by 7:50 a.m.
COD will provide WIFI access on each bus.
“(It’s) another really great direction for us to celebrate,” Interim Superintendent / President Laura Hope said at the Jan. 19 Trustees meeting. “The very first week that I was here in July, I heard … about how many challenges students face in transporting themselves from one end of the valley to the next or in between campuses.”
Student Trustee Isaac Zarco and Area 3 Trustee Ron Oden and others have noted that it’s a huge issue for many of our students. So, the executive team and others have been talking about how transportation is an issue that we need to tackle, Hope said.
“We’ve taken that very seriously and we now have a plan and a program that we are introducing this month,” Hope said. “Educational researcher, Vince Tinto once said that access without support isn’t opportunity. And I think we really try to live by that understanding. We aren’t really creating opportunity for students unless we support students and create the conditions for them to succeed. So, our Roadrunner Express is another way that we can contribute to the conditions for student success.”
Trustees welcomed the announcement with accolades.
The cost of the program is currently earmarked in the COD budget, but the goal is to get financial donations to under write the service.
The College of the Desert Foundation has a 40-year history of helping the college provide support services to our students, Catherine Abbott Executive Director of the Foundation said.
“When we talked about this, I truly believe that it’s an initiative that several of our funders in the community would want to put their arms around.”
Abbott said she had a “very successful meeting” with the Berger Foundation.
“We knew that this was a project that they would be able to support because they like community initiatives. And we see this as an initiative that bridges our community together. (A) letter of intent is sitting with them now. We are waiting for their board to meet so that they can make a decision. In the meantime, we will be seeking other funders that will also potentially be interested in supporting this initiative.”
Nicholas Robles, public information officer, will be on the inaugural journey the Roadrunner Express.
- Laura Hope: COD
- Roadrunner Express Van: COD