Bus schedule, escort changes enhance
By Dan Heuchert
frequent nighttime and weekend bus service and a more focused
escort service, renamed SafeRide, are among the elements
the University is introducing this month to address student security
committee of students, faculty and administrators recommended
the changes after a two-year study of the Universitys Escort
Service. Heavy ridership in recent years had slowed response times,
leading to many complaints from stranded students and staff.
Escort Service was founded in the 1970s to provide a safe alternative
to walking alone at night. The University
Police Department joined in the management of the service
in the late 1980s. In response to a 1997 attack on a student in
the Venable neighborhood, the services hours and operating
area were expanded.
result was a huge increase in ridership, from approximately 6,600
riders in 1995 to approximately 52,600 in 2002. The boom led to
staffing challenges, taxed the services vans and strained
the Police Departments budget. Waits for a ride climbed
as high as 45 minutes at times, particularly on Thursday through
the Escort Service has become one of several
transportation alternatives they might consider for normal evening
use rather than an occasional resource when there is no other
safe alternative, the committees report concluded.
As it currently operates, the Escort Service is serving
transportation needs for many students and safety needs for considerably
which began operation Aug. 23 at midnight, is intended to focus
more narrowly on the Escort Services original mission: providing
a safe ride for individuals or small groups who would otherwise
be forced to walk alone at night. An increase in after-dark bus
service is intended to provide routine transportation and revised
SafeRide procedures should improve the response time, so committee
members foresee no drop-off in student safety.
dont want to compromise student safety, said V. Shamim
Sisson, senior associate dean of students and chairwoman of the
Escort Service Review Committee. While at first blush it
looks like cutting back, in several ways we are improving students
ability to manage their own safety.
Restricting the service hours to midnight through 6 a.m., when
University Transit Service buses do not run.
Limiting service to groups of three or fewer. Rather than transporting
a half-dozen students from dorms to the Corner, Sisson said, SafeRide
is intended to serve the one student who decides she would rather
return home than continue with a group to another location.
Limiting the service, whenever practical, to those who call for
rides, rather than allowing students to hop on when they discover
the van stopped nearby.
to the UTS schedule, which took effect Aug. 25, are the most extensive
since the current routes were introduced in the fall of 1984,
said Rebecca White, director of the Department of Parking and
biggest change: buses on the workhorse Blue/Orange Route will
come along much more frequently at night during full service
(when classes are in session during the fall and spring semesters).
Buses on the Blue/Orange Route will run every 12 minutes from
7:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. on weekdays and from 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Blue/Orange Route buses ran every 10 minutes during the day, but
only every 20 minutes after approximately 6 p.m. The hope is that
students will now view UTS buses as a more attractive option for
routine nighttime transportation, White said.
Grounds Loop also will run more frequently, with buses coming
every 15 minutes instead of every half-hour. The route will no
longer link Scott Stadium with the hospital. Instead, it will
turn down Fontaine Avenue, cut through the Piedmont faculty housing
area, stop at Runk Hall and turn back toward Central Grounds.
will be a special run from Piedmont and Runk to the hospital at
7:20 a.m. and 7:32 a.m., and Blue route buses running from the
hospital to the stadium will now be routed through Piedmont and
Runk, providing service every 12 minutes.)
The changes in the Grounds Loop and the Blue/Orange Routes will
send nine buses per hour through Central Grounds and the most
densely populated student areas, and provide more service along
McCormick Road during busy class changes.
Weekend service will begin at noon, instead of 11 a.m. previously.
Weekend Blue/Orange buses will run at 20-minute intervals until
6 p.m., then switch to the new 12-minute schedule.
The Stadium-Hospital Shuttle will end 40 minutes earlier than
previously, at 7:24 p.m. Employees whose shifts end at 7 p.m.
and miss the 7:24 shuttle may catch a Blue route bus from the
hospital to the stadium at 7:30 or every 12 minutes thereafter.
changes will be made when the new Emmet/Ivy parking garage opens
in late October or early November.
of these changes will increase the total number of weekly service
hours from 1,450 to about 1,495. White estimated the cost of implementing
the changes at about $50,000.
think were improving a lot of things for a very small increase,