Breaking Down Transportation Barriers Helps Students Reach Campus Classes

College of the Desert is always working toward new means of servicing educational access for all students. In response to student transportation issues, COD launched the new Roadrunner Express in January 2024. This first-of-its-kind initiative provides a campus-to-campus shuttle service, linking all five COD campuses from Desert Hot Springs all the way to Indio.

The average community college student spends $1,480 a year on transportation costs. Particularly for low-income households, working students, and student parents, this cost is substantial. Lack of dependable transportation to and from school can preclude students from important on-site learning, or in some cases, even disrupt their track to graduation. Considering that COD and its campuses serve a valley spanning more than 7,000 square miles, students could be traveling more than an hour each way to reach their classrooms. “Many students don’t have their own vehicle. They can get a ride to campus, but traveling to other campuses can be difficult. This is another way we are driving home our focus, ‘Your Community, Your College,”’ says Interim Superintendent/President Laura Hope. “We want students to feel at home at COD and have access to the tools they need to succeed.”

Derick Talay, a current COD student, feels heard and appreciates having a new way to reach campus. “Previously, I would lose up to 3 hours per day in travel time when I could have been studying or spending time with my family. The Roadrunner Express program will help thousands of students,” he affirms. “Connecting them to their destinations actually connects them to their dreams, literally bringing them closer to earning their associate degrees despite any transportation challenges.”

COD students are still able to access free transportation via the public bus through the college’s partnership with SunLine Transit Agency. Students can show their student IDs to ride both the public bus and the Roadrunner Express.

Roadrunner Express offers three round-trip routes running between campuses Monday through Thursday. The College hopes to expand the program’s schedule to include free, reliable transportation for students attending evening and night classes.

This initiative would not have been possible without the generosity of the Bob and Connie Lurie Foundation Challenge Grant.

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