March 30, 2007

Transportation Office should take SG's lead

In light of the various bureaucratic problems that have plagued the Transportation Office’s shuttle and bus services for the past two quarters, Student Government’s (SG) free, finals week airport shuttle was a welcome illustration of the potential for well implemented and efficient transportation that meets the practical needs of students. The sheer number of students who made use of the service over the course of just two days is a testament to the success with which student representatives were able to gauge the desire for a quick and inexpensive ride. SG did one better: They made it free.

Considering that 400 students—a significant portion of the student population—made use of the shuttle, the $3,000 price tag footed by SG was a reasonable price to pay, costing less per student than either a taxi ride or the Omega shuttle. Moreover, the service actually benefited students, unlike many recent SG expenditures that have proved expensive and ineffective.

Compared to the LCD screen in the Reynolds Club and the HYPE yacht party, the shuttle represents a step by SG towards more serious consideration of its allocation of student life funds.

Even more commendable was SG’s readiness to accommodate the overflow of students eager to make use of the service. When SG representatives realized they had underestimated interest in the program, they quickly arranged for additional buses to serve everyone who wanted to use them. Students were satisfied, and SG deserves credit for a job well done.

It’s unfortunate that the Transportation Office was quick to say that it won’t be implementing a similar service anytime in the near future. Whereas recent changes to the University bus system have been little more than ineffective tweaks to an increasingly unreliable service, SG’s airport shuttle should serve as a jumping-off point for more effective handling of student transportation.

Instead of immediately discarding the possibility of a permanent service as too expensive, the Transportation Office should explore how a model similar to SG’s could be made more cost-effective and thus a viable response to real student need.