EDITORIALS

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October 6, 2009

Transportation breakdown

The omission of a single hour from late-night shuttle service may not seem like a major change, but for the many students who depend on the routes during those times, the alteration makes all the difference.

Last spring, the University announced its new transportation plan, UChicaGO, which among other things decreases evening hours on the directional shuttles departing from the Regenstein Library and Reynolds Club. The North, South, East, and Central routes, formerly running until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends, now cease operation at 1 a.m., leaving SafeRide as the only University-run transportation available after that hour. Given ongoing student concerns over the convenience and reliability of the SafeRide service, such a change is far from ideal.

In the past, prolonged holding periods over the phone and wait times of up to an hour have plagued the SafeRide system. Student Government President Jarrod Wolf says his office has been fielding many of these complaints since returning to campus this fall, indicating that the service still has critical flaws. Between the hours of 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., students who previously counted on the directional shuttles to head home from a party across campus or to leave the Reg to get to a distant apartment are now faced with a choice between dealing with the hassle of SafeRide, changing their plans, or undertaking a potentially unsafe walking trip. The omission of a single hour during the day may not seem like a major change, but for the many students who depend on the routes during those times, the alteration makes all the difference.

According to the Office of Transportation and Parking Services, no changes to SafeRide have been made to supplement the shortened hours. In turn, this places increased demand on a service that has already proven inadequate to handle its existing mandate, let alone the increase in riders almost certain to accompany a cut in other transportation options. Without improvements to the operation of SafeRide, the new directional shuttle hours will at best inconvenience students and at worst pressure them into possibly dangerous situations.

Actions on the University’s part—such as the timely opening of the 61st and Drexel police station and the doubled frequency of the directional shuttle service to every 10 minutes—show its commitment to student safety. Nevertheless, such steps fail to completely address demonstrated student need. Only a restoration of last year’s evening shuttle hours or changes to SafeRide allowing the service to cope with its increased burden can maintain the standard of convenient transportation students need.

The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and two additional Editorial Board members.