November 11, 2003

SG debates Red Line van service

With introductions and icebreakers behind them, the Student Government is starting to tackle a serious issue: improving campus-to-downtown transportation with the implementation of Red Line shuttle services.

The Student Government Transportation Committee (SGTC) met Friday, November 7th, to discuss a proposal for a Red Line shuttle to be used by students for traveling between campus and the Red Line during late-night hours.

Most students said they would welcome a shuttle from the Red Line, but remained skeptical about the feasibility of such a plan ever coming to fruition. Sarah Burch, a second-year in the College, expressed both interest and doubt in the proposal, saying that SG always has new proposals on the table, but that they often do not materialize.

"If they could actually pull this one off, it would be great," Birch said.

Joe Anzalone, the SGTC Chair and a fourth-year in the College, is responsible for heading the effort. Aside from running the meetings, Anzalone's duties include taking suggestions to the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB), a separate group comprised of the Associate Dean of Transportation and the campus representatives from CTA and Laidlaw, the company that operates the white buses on campus.

He also proposes personal ideas to the committee—like the Red Line shuttle project—and uses the members for, as he said, a "think tank for angles or concepts of the idea that I may have missed."

If the administration deems an initiative workable and approves it, Anzalone delegates tasks and research assignments to the respective committee members.

"We have a certified public accountant in the group and if we ever needed some official number crunching, he'd be the person to figure that all out," Anzalone said.

The details of the proposal—everything from hours of operation to funding for the project—will not be finalized until late in eighth week. Once the details are arranged, Anzalone will present the proposal to the administration at the TAB meeting on November 21st.

Anzalone said that most people were in favor of the shuttle service, saying that late-night travel was an important issue that needed to be addressed. The committee members offered both helpful insight and constructive criticism with the current drafts of the proposal.

The committee also meticulously discussed other transportation issues they hope to address this year. The issues included the efficiency of the Late-Night Van Service and the white bus system.

One of the three executive slate members of SG oversees each committee. The SGTC falls under the purview of president Bo Shan, who helped run the meeting alongside Anzalone. Shan said that the committee's issues were difficult ones, citing the demands presented at the first meeting.

"The first committee meeting went far past our allotted time," Shan said. "We adjourned a little after an hour and thirty minutes. We could have easily gone for two hours or more."

Shan also said he was pleased with Anzalone's efforts thus far, but added it is only the beginning of a long year's journey.

"I couldn't be happier with Joe Anzalone as Chair," Shan said. "He is doing a wonderful job, and [the committee] is putting in a lot of time and effort into making this a very comprehensive and detailed proposal."

Anzalone said that he was satisfied with the first meeting, and that it gave him hope for the future prospects of the committee. He was particularly pleased with the participation of both undergraduate and graduate students who were cooperating on the Red Line van issue.

"The Red Line project is a great way to get everyone started on one common goal and to proceed ambitiously towards other projects we'll take on," Anzalone said.

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 19th at 4:30 pm in Hutch.