As the continuous shuttle pilot program draws to a close Dec. 18, the Student Government now waits for a report from the transportation department on the success of the program so they can begin addressing its challenges.
Officially, signs advertising the continuous shuttle program are still up and the program is still running, according to Transportation Director Tony Newman. However, Seth Cutter, the Class of 2010 senator who sponsored the legislation that created the program, said he has seen buses begin to idle again.
The program, which began in efforts to stop the idling of the shuttle buses on the South side of campus, didn’t materialize the way SG leaders hoped, according to Cutter.
“The plan in theory should be great,” Cutter said. “But for whatever reason it seems to not be working.”
Challenges to the program, according to Cutter, included poor communication among bus drivers and inadequate publicity.
“Maybe we rushed into it too quickly,” he said. “There might not have been enough time to get everything organized.”
While Newman said he noticed buses idling less at the South side shuttle stop, he said there were challenges to the program. Since the distance to the Tenley Metro station is only a mile, it was difficult to keep shuttles adequately spaced, Newman said.
“Rush hour was also tricky,” Newman said. “What should be a seven-minute trip can become a 15-minute trip.”
Response cards were handed out Dec. 6 to get student opinion on the program, but Cutter said he recognized that students remain dissatisfied with the shuttle service.
“Students don’t feel that the program is being fulfilled,” he said. “This isn’t what it is supposed to be.”
Katelyn Miller, a freshman in the School of International Service who lives on the North side of campus, said she was pleased with the changes in the program.
“It was nice because I could finally get a seat,” she said. “Before the program, I’d get frustrated because I’d wait 15 minutes for a shuttle, but by the time it would arrive on North side, it would already be full.”
Miller said the program still needs improvements.
“The other day ... I had to wait a really long time for a shuttle, so it isn’t perfect yet,” she said.
On the other hand, students living on the South side of campus noticed longer waits for buses.
“I think they need a better definition of what non-stop shuttle service means,” said Natalie Matthews, a freshman in SIS. “The shuttles still stop for 15 to 20 minutes on South side, and I still get pissed off whether I wait on the North side or the South side.”
However, Erik Jacobsen, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the pilot shuttle program didn’t affect him that much since he lives on the South side of campus.
“The buses come so frequently that it doesn’t really matter,” he said.
Recognizing the importance of the shuttle service to students, Cutter said he would devote his attention to the problems. After seeing around 40 people waiting at the shuttle at 3:30 p.m. this past week, he immediately went to Student Government President Ashley Mushnick, who worked with Cutter and Newman on the program, and said, “We need to talk to Tony Newman.”
Expecting a full report from the transportation department on the outcome of the pilot program, Cutter said they will analyze the program and decide if it is still something the SG wants to pursue.
“If these are just stumbling blocks, then we’d love to continue,” he said. “If not, we still have a lot of other options.”
Newman said he would also like to see improved transportation services.
“We have people out there monitoring the program and so we’re learning from this experience,” Newman said. “I really hope this thing will be successful so that there is better quality transportation for the students.