October 16, 2009

Shuttles to run later after UchicaGO tweak

Late night shuttle service will be extended two hours, until 3 a.m., on Fridays and Saturdays starting tonight, as the administration begins to address riders’ complaints about UchicaGO, the University’s new transportation system.

In order to compensate for the extra-late night hours, the Saturday and Sunday shuttles will run only every 20 minutes from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. The buses used to run every 10 minutes between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Service during the week remains unchanged.

According to University spokesman Steve Kloehn, the extension came with the understanding that ridership information would be analyzed and changes would be made if necessary.

“Based on the first two weeks of rider data, the shuttle routes have been adjusted to extend hours on Friday and Saturday, when there is more demand late, while reducing frequency on Saturday and Sunday, when overall ridership is down,” he said, in a message copied to the transportation listhost.

Earlier in the month, Director of Transportation Brian Shaw said it made sense to end the routes earlier in the evening since SafeRide usage—what students unable to use the routes would presumably utilize—dropped off after 1 a.m.

“Ending the evening route service at 1 a.m. does not seem to be having an impact on SafeRide usage as call volumes have not increased after 1 a.m.,” he said two weeks ago.

Shaw was not available for comment.

Hundreds of students have joined at least two Facebook groups criticizing the system for shorter hours on the shuttles, erratic SafeRide service, and changes to the bus system. Many voiced complaints to Student Government (SG) over the last week.

Fourth-year Chris Williams, SG vice president for student life, said the changes will “answer some of the problems” UchicaGO has faced by lifting some of the burden from SafeRide buses on weekends but that other parts of the plan still need work.

“We’re really happy in that we think these changes will solve some of these issues, but we’re still concerned about transportation from campus to downtown.” He also pointed out troubles with 171 scheduling and that the new route 200 “needs some work in monitoring and control.”

Williams pointed out the role the University has played in addressing UchicaGO’s shortcomings. “The administration in transportation and above transportation has been very cognizant of the issues with transportation. They’ve been really willing to gather data, listen to complaints and adjust the routes based on student concerns.”