NEWS

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February 12, 2005

Red Line shuttle stats add to campus debate

Sometimes University proposals take campus by storm, stirring debate from the dorm lounges to the Crerar computer labs.

Last spring, the Red Line shuttle, a Chicago bus service implemented by Student Government that would transport students from the Reynolds Club to the Red Line Garfield stop on weekend evenings, became such a hot button topic. Amidst charges that the Red Line shuttle was an embodiment of prejudicial University policies that divided students from surrounding South Side residents, the shuttle began to ferry students from Hyde Park to the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The shuttle was not the resounding success its creators hoped it would be, nor was it a dismal failure. Over a five-week period last June, 889 rides were taken on the shuttle either to or from the Reynolds Club. During that same period, the bus made an average of 150 trips. Generally, an average of about six students rode the shuttle for each leg of the trip.

According to David Clayman, second-year Student Government liaison, the current Student Government Slate, "Raising the Bar," headed by Robert Hubbard, "ran on a platform that was explicitly against the Red Line shuttle bus." While the slate is less emphatically opposed to the service, their support for the shuttle is still somewhat chilly.

SG Vice President Ananya Das summarized the slate's official stance: "Since it was strictly a student initiative, after the [SG] assembly is formed along with the Transportation Committee, it is up to them to determine whether there is sufficient demand from the student body for this shuttle to be reinstated. If [SG] decides to do so, it will be seen on campus in winter quarter, at the earliest."

Because of the Slate's strong reservations about the shuttle, Clayman predicts that the service will "die on the vine" unless sufficient student support is expressed.

Meanwhile, SG is considering other transportation initiatives. David Courchaine, head of the Transportation Committee, is concerned with improving drunk-van service.

Student response to the Red Line Shuttle has tempered considerably since last spring. Once the subject of passionate debate that featured catchphrases such as "academic imperialism" and "responsibility to the community", now the van seems inconsequential. Ashley Swanson, a fourth-year economics major, said that she doesn't think students really use the shuttle to get downtown. "Many people don't even know when it runs," she said.

Even students who feel strongly about the shuttle are less concerned with the University's relationship to the community than they are about the service's futility. Susannah Ribstein, an art history major, said, "I don't think the University should be babying the student body, protecting it from having to deal with the CTA the way the rest of the city has to do. Plus, it seems like a big waste of money."