Tackle buses before parking


The University’s bus system has long-served as a source of grief for students across the University’s four campuses. And, for equally as long as they’ve been around, the buses have drawn criticism from the student body. Overcrowding, inconvenient delays and “bunching” — a problem whereby multiple buses on the same route arrive at the same stop at the same time — are common occurrences throughout the day, and often serve to hinder riders from reaching their destinations in a timely manner. But even with predictable problems like rush hour aside, perhaps so much should be expected from one of the largest university bus systems in the nation.

What shouldn’t be expected, however, is a brushing-under-the-rug of student complaints, something which happens far too often by the University and its administrators. In yesterday’s edition of The Daily Targum, Jack Molenaar, director of the University’s Department of Transportation Services, labeled much of the criticism aimed at the bus system’s operations as unwarranted. “At the beginning of every semester, the buses are always a little more crowded,” he said.

But such an attitude simply does not seem to align with reality. The way we see it, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

No one is more poignantly aware of issues relating to the University’s buses than students. Whether it is for class, to visit friends or take a trip downtown, many — if not all — of us rely on the University’s buses as a primary source of transportation.

Since the University first switched transportation providers from Academy to First Transit, many of the wrinkles in the way the buses are run seem to have been smoothed out, but there remains a long way to go in improving operations. It’s still not uncommon to see multiple LX buses idling empty, one behind the other, on Livingston campus while overcrowded F buses are forced to pass over students at the College Hall stop on Cook campus. Overcrowding and bunching — problems that Molenaar and others mistakenly view as seasonal — are in reality chronic problems that students are forced to deal with throughout the year. Issues like these can be easily fixed by adding an additional bus to swamped routes or altering certain bus routes slightly so that drivers can capitalize on the number of riders picked up.

Molenaar also added that the Department of Transportation Services issues parking tickets in order to encourage students to ride the buses and refrain from driving. While we applaud any effort to lessen the amount of traffic on campus through public transportation, administrators must realize that part of the reason students avoid taking the bus is exactly because they are often an inconvenience to ride. If administrators truly do wish to prevent the use of vehicles on campus, they must first tackle the buses before they tackle anything else.

Ideally, we would like to see both bus and vehicular traffic lessened by an increase in bicycle transportation. But even this alternative is somewhat impractical without the proper infrastructure, which includes the construction of bike lanes on campus. This, along with streamlining University bus operations, is what University administrators ought to be focusing on to make transportation on campus more comfortable for everyone — not ignoring student complaints and handing out parking tickets.

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