All students, staff, faculty and visitors who use the AU shuttle deserve greater reliability and service. Transportation Services continues to fall short of its obligation to serve disabled members of our school community.
Don’t get me wrong, Transportation Services has made great leaps in the past few years, and for this, they should be commended. Shuttle drivers are friendly and courteous (when treated as such). While waiting in the cold on North side to leave campus during the 8 p.m. rush, a full shuttle passed by (to my dismay), only to be followed by a nonscheduled empty bus (to my delight) that stopped and filled up in an effort to assist the crush of students, staff and employees heading home in the evening. Service leaves something to be desired on weekends, to be sure, but all in all, I think improvements have helped.
That said, there are still fundamental flaws in the shuttle service. I have viewed the inability of AU shuttles to comply with wheelchairs and motor scooters on our campus. Consistently, the automatic lifts jam, break or are entirely nonfunctional, causing disabled members of our community to wait in the cold for the next bus (which may or may not be plagued by the same issues). Twice now, I have been delayed not due to the actual process of loading a disabled person, but because the equipment in our shuttles is so run-down that it ceases to work. One afternoon, as my bus discharged passengers at Katzen, a member of our community passed by in her power-chair. The shuttle bus driver yelled out the doorway as she passed, “Ma’am, didn’t feel like waiting around for a bus that worked this time?” The lady in her scooter laughed. So did the driver. When the expectation is that our buses are unreliable, what does that say about our university as a whole?
Yes, they are just buses. But whether we like it or not, our shuttle system is the first impression many people get of our university - it was mine. And when our prospective students and parents see run-down buses unable to accommodate all of our community, what do you suppose they think? Transportation Services should be reliable for all of our students, staff and community members. It should be a department we can be proud of.
And so my suggestion is this: Make buses more frequent on weekends, yes. But make them accessible to all, as well. If lifts don’t work, fix or replace them. Because AU is a place I am proud of, and that pride should extend to all of this university’s entities, both on and off campus.
Junior, School of Public Affairs