EDITORIALS

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April 24, 2009

Travel agency

The administration should adopt the proposed UchicaGO plan for campus transportation

Stand next to the Reynolds Club for a few minutes, and you’ll likely find yourself overwhelmed by one thing: buses. Some have numbers; some are affixed with cardinal directions; late-night shuttles loop back and forth in a frenzy as they try to pick up every student who wants a ride; until recently, the perennially empty Maroon and Phoenix shuttles sat periodically at corners.Despite the abundance of buses, it’s no secret that campus transportation is deeply flawed. And as 800 more students prepare to move into the new dorm next fall, the present resources for South Campus look even more barren. Now, with a proposal for an overhaul of transportation in Hyde Park presented by a consultant last week, belt-tightening administrators must not cut corners on the transportation changes students sorely need.The new plan, called UchicaGO, suggests several changes, two of which are particularly necessary: first, restructuring SafeRide to include so-called “Troll Patrol” shuttles outside student gathering places. Second, UchicaGO proposes a new route, temporarily called the #172 1⁄2, with expanded coverage south of the Midway. Though the days are getting longer and something like spring has finally come to Chicago, many students still depend on SafeRide. Long waits and unresponsive operators are par for the course; getting a lift at a peak weekend time can be next to impossible. UchicaGO would fix this, using the #172 1⁄2 and a slight modification to the #171 route to lighten the burden on SafeRide. Even more enticing is the prospect of a tracking system that would send text messages with bus information to students, as well as cardinal routes that run twice as frequently. The recently scrapped Maroon and Phoenix routes are a good example of what we don’t want from the transportation office: a hastily assembled, poorly publicized solution to a nonspecific problem. UchicaGO, however, represents a welcome break from this sort of haphazard planning. With the new dorm opening, expanded shuttle services south of the Midway will clearly be necessary; similarly, the revised #171 route is a smart change that will enhance students’ access to local businesses.The University will be changing up its transportation system in the fall—the only question now is what form that will take. UchicaGO offers both a common-sense reform to the shuttle and bus routes, and a fix for SafeRide that would get students where they want to go, faster. The University should adopt the proposals.

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