NEWS

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January 26, 2007

University bus service leaves students out in the cold

[img id="80139" align="alignleft"] Many students remain dissatisfied with University-sponsored CTA bus routes to campus, saying that overcrowding is leaving students in the cold and forcing them to re-adjust their schedules to allow for the unpredictability.

The Transportation Office replaced last year’s bus routes at the beginning of the academic year, but disorganized service in the first month raised complaints about frequent overcrowding, missed buses, inadequate shelter, confusion over stops, poor customer service, and an inconvenient schedule. As of November, there was still confusion among drivers and students about the bus stop at the Ratner Athletic Center.

Problems with University bus service remain after four months of rider griping and frustration. Anjanette Chan Tack, an undergraduate who lives near 53rd street and Hyde Park Boulevard, said she typically has to allow for a 20-minute wait for the #171 bus in the morning, more than the amount of time it would take her to walk to class.

“Between 8:30 and 9:30 it’s really hard to get to class on the #171,” Chan Tack said. “The buses are always overcrowded. By the [time it gets to] Shoreland, the bus is full—which I suppose is the beginning point of loading.

“I have a roommate who gets on the 7:30 bus or 8:00 bus just to make sure she gets there,” Chan Tack said, adding that the “unpredictability” of the buses “causes people to readjust their time schedules.”

The University is currently working on improving service. “We are working with CTA to try to get larger buses put into service during the a.m. rush between 8 and 10 a.m.,” said Brian Shaw, director of the Transportation Office, in an e-mail interview.

The complaint system “is working very well, and it has improved our ability to respond to issues,” Shaw said.

“There’ve been a couple of times when I’ve been standing out in the cold for 20 minutes, and I can’t even get on,” said Conor O’Sullivan, a graduate student. “Our stop’s really close to the start of the line, so I can’t even imagine what it’s like near the end.

“It’s really annoying and it’s really frustrating,” Sullivan said.

Donny Copeland, Student Government vice president for Administration, disagreed with the notion that the system is not working adequately.

“From personally talking to students, they’ve been very happy,” he said. “Most of the kinks, I believe, have been worked out, with large enough buses, with getting people to class on time.”

Copeland pointed out that “complaints have virtually stopped” since the beginning of the calendar year, although the decrease might be attributed to students tiring of filing incident reports. “My suggestion is that students haven’t been running their complaints to bus.uchicago.edu,” Copeland said.

Others in the administration have seen improvements in the bus service. “I think it’s better

than it was in the fall, but it’s not perfect,” said Paul Ryer, assistant director of Housing, who said he takes the #171 bus every day. “I’ve seen Broadview students left behind, and that frustrates me.”

Ryer suggested that “ridership patterns change” every winter with “people not wanting to wait in the cold,” adding that this is something “the Transportation Office should adjust to.”

Shaw said the Transportation Office is “evaluating improvements” to the #171 bus.

The bus complaint hotline is (773) 795-6108. E-mail can be sent to bus@uchicago.edu. Students can also go to bus.uchicago.edu for the latest transportation information.