Many campus commuters are upset with major changes that the University made to the bus system prior to the start of fall quarter, complaining that the buses were often late and overcrowded last week. The University added new routes, altered or canceled old routes, and completely replaced the evening bus service.
The result, at least so far, has been confusion and frustration. “I walk a lot,” said Michael Schlegelmilch, a second-year in the College and Shoreland Hall resident. Many students have chosen to avoid the buses as much as possible while there are still glitches in the system.
The transportation office has responded quickly to complaints regarding overcrowding and lateness. The Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) on Monday added two buses to both routes 171 and 172 for the peak morning hours, and put larger buses on both routes. The University pays the CTA to run the campus bus routes and initiates major adjustments to the routes.
The CTA also added buses to the 171 between 6 and 8 p.m. Buses on that route will now arrive once every 15 minutes, instead of once every half- hour. Another bus has been added to the Central Route evening service.
Students have also complained that since the buses no longer stop in front of the Reynolds Club, there is no longer any shelter or seating available at bus stops. Many are concerned about chilly waits in the winter.
A request from the Office of Campus Transportation and Parking for funding for a shelter outside of the Regenstein, where the evening buses now stop, currently awaits approval.
The transportation system for the University was redesigned for this year based in large part on student input, both graduate and undergraduate. The transportation budget increased by almost half—from $1.6 million last year to $2.3 million this year, according to Brian Shaw, director of Campus Transportation and Parking Services.
The Transportation Student Advisory Board, which includes three members of Student Government and three members of Inter-House Council, met with University officials last year to discuss the new system. Administrators also sought feedback from other student groups.
“The system is simpler, open to the entire campus community, operates later, provides better connections to Metra and CTA, and improves safety,” Shaw said in an e-mail interview.
Major changes include increased frequency and later service on route 171, as well as the addition of route 174, which runs directly from campus to the Red and Green CTA rail stations on East 55th Street during peak hours and late on Friday and Saturday nights.
The University also changed its private bus system. There is no longer a Shoreland bus during the day. The evening buses, which used to be designated by the letters A-F, have been replaced by four new routes: Central, South, East, and North. These buses leave the Reg every 20 minutes and run from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. on weekends.
Many factors contributed to the increased transportation budget, according to Shaw. The CTA has increased its service charges, routes such as the 170 and 171 have been extended and improved, the 174 was added, and the 192 no longer receives funding from the U of C Hospitals.
Some changes are still to come, Shaw said. New buses for the evening routes, similar in design to the new CTA buses, have been ordered and should be in operation by January. Also, the late-night van service, now operated by the U of C Police Department, will soon be operated by Campus Transportation and Parking.
Comments, questions, and suggestions for Campus Transportation can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the Campus Transportation website at facilities.uchicago.edu.