Transportation officials released an updated NightRide departure schedule last week after analyzing ridership volume of the new evening shuttle program.
According to the new schedule, which was posted on the Transportation and Parking Web site last week, shuttles depart from the “Transit Hub” near Reynolds Club and the Reg every 15 to 20 minutes from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. After 1 a.m., shuttles depart every 30 to 35 minutes until 4 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and until 6 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Last year, evening shuttles departed on 10- and 20-minute intervals at different points in the evening. The door-to-door SafeRide service supplemented those shuttles, which had shorter hours and did not cover as large of an area in Hyde Park. Administrators consolidated the two programs this year after students complained that SafeRide was unreliable.
Director of Transportation and Parking Theresa Brown explained that NightRide shuttles leave on approximate intervals because they can take anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes to complete their routes.
“The 5 p.m. shuttle should arrive back at the hub at approximately 5:30 and leave by 5:40; the 5:15-5:20 shuttle should arrive back at the hub by 5:45 and leave by 5:55. Essentially, there are four departures per route, per hour during the hours 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.,” she wrote in an e-mail. Brown said that two shuttles operate on each route in a continuous loop until 1 a.m. each night, and one shuttle per route after 1 a.m.
The new shuttle program was communicated in a letter to all staff and students from University Chief of Police Marlon Lynch as well as to all housing staff and incoming students during O-Week trainings and Chicago Life Meetings, Brown said. At the beginning of the academic year, administrators also distributed maps of the new routes in residence halls and the lobbies of campus buildings, and outlined the program in a release on the University’s news Web site, without the current schedule.
Some shuttles have also been renamed with colors to denote their expanded route. The display on the South shuttle, for example, will sometimes say “Red South” to denote the expanded route on the map provided by Transportation and Parking drawn in red. Aside from the color of the route on the map, neither the Transportation and Parking Web site nor the University news article explains that shuttles with displays that say “South” and “Red South” service the same route.
Asher Gabara, a fourth-year who lives off campus, said that he learned about the new shuttle schedule from the Transportation and Parking Web site.
“It’s pretty clear that they essentially come every fifteen minutes. And the route of the shuttle is available,” he said. Gabara added that he also knew the shuttles departed less frequently after 1 a.m.
Gabara noted that the first result of a Google search for “UChicago shuttles” is to the old evening shuttle routes. That page does not say anything about the NightRide program or that the routes have been changed. The old schedule and routes are not accessible directly from the Transportation and Parking Web site, and the new program is outlined under the Web site’s old SafeRide tab.
During a ride on the Central route last week, second-year Kara Taylor said that the changes had not had much of an impact on her trips back and forth to Broadview, but that friends who used to be able to get across Hyde Park in 15 to 20 minutes using SafeRide now took the better part of an hour using the evening shuttles.
NightRide will run as a pilot program throughout the entire year, and Brown said that administrators would continue to tweak the program in response to feedback.
“T&P will continue tracking actual usage and ridership trends and will report changes in the schedule at appropriate intervals to ensure riders have the most current information available,” Brown said.
—Additional reporting by Raghav Verma