University buses often late, overcrowded, students say
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 02:04
Sophomore Jill Faull said she was recently aboard a university bus leaving from Laird Campus when she saw the driver pass by a group of students waiting for the vehicle’s arrival.
“We had to skip a stop because there were so many people on board,” Faull said. “I felt bad for those people as we drove by because I knew they would be late [to class].”
Due to overcrowding on university buses, officials from the Transportation Services department have replaced a bus route that begins at Laird Campus and travelled as far as the Perkins Student Center with one that ends at the Smith Hall Overpass on North College Avenue.
Tim Conrad, interim service supervisor for Transportation Services, said the route replacement means that students traveling from Laird Campus to Perkins will have to switch buses at the Smith Hall Overpass. He said department officials have received less complaints about buses’ timeliness since the alternative route was enacted.
Conrad said the changes were made in an attempt to improve buses’ punctuality and decrease the frequency of overcrowding. He said department officials wanted to increase the timeliness of buses headed south from Laird Campus because previous bus route was programmed to drive through traffic-prone areas of campus and busy Newark streets.
“A lot of it has to do with ridership and keeping the buses on time,” Conrad said. “In sending the Laird Campus bus down Main Street, it would always fall behind at certain times of the day and there is just no way that it could catch up.”
While the change has increased the frequency of bus trips between Laird Campus, some students say they still have difficulty arriving at class on time and that the new route is still flawed.
Junior Ravi Sharma said he has observed the Laird Campus bus’ tardiness and has not noticed any changes made to the routes or schedule. He said the arrival times are unreliable and students are not guaranteed a seat.
“They say that it runs every four minutes, but I have had to wait at least 20 minutes sometimes,” Sharma said. “If the bus is late, I am probably going to be late too.”
Junior Quillan Donnelly said he is more concerned with overcrowding than timeliness because he said he has noticed the busses are particularly full during rainy weather.
“Especially on bad weather days it looks like it’s pretty bad,” Donnelly said. “I’ve seen people get off buses and it looked like they were just crammed in there, and I’ve seen people waiting and it’s just like, who can push their way on first.”
Sharma said he has also witnessed overcrowding between class periods.
“There’s a ton of kids on Laird [Campus] that need to get down to campus and they can’t all fit on the bus,” he said. “It would help a lot to have more buses running or more buses running on schedule.”
Conrad said his department is unable to increase the number of buses travelling on the route to alleviate overcrowding. However, he said university officials are attempting to reallocate underutilized buses to transport students from Laird Campus to the Smith Hall Overpass, while avoiding heavy traffic areas.
He said department officials used electronic sensors that monitor buses’ location, progress and number of occupants to conclude that cutting the direct route between Laird Campus and Perkins would help decrease overcrowding.
Junior Terry Slenn said the change is unhelpful for students who need to reach locations like Perkins on a regular basis.
“There is no good way to get there and it’s on the opposite side of campus,” Slenn said.
Freshman Chris Grasso said the changes are particularly unpleasant for students who live on Laird Campus because of its location in comparison to the rest of campus.
Grasso said the schedule changes are significant enough to encourage him to ride his bike to reach the central area of campus when he is going to class.
“We’re isolated enough as is, and this is just making it more difficult for some of us to get where we need to go in a timely manner,” Grasso said.