New routes serve some, desert others

Amy Hamblin

Changes made to the student shuttle service’s route on April 12 were supposed to cater more to students’ needs. But many off-campus students say it does just the opposite.

Despite a shorter wait for strictly on-campus shuttles, an additional 10-minute wait has frustrated many off-campus students. For students living close to Ridge Avenue and Noyes Street, the shuttle’s new path — which bypasses that intersection — is no longer convenient.

“The new route makes absolutely no sense,” said Georgene Chiou, a Communication senior who lives on that corner. “It goes completely out of the way for students.”

With improved wait times for the Escort Service, some on- and off-campus students find themselves forced to call the student-run service because it drops off students exactly where they need to go.

But even some students living on Ridge prefer taking the shuttle and the new route.

“Both the old shuttle system and the new one don’t serve the Ridge area between Church (Street) and Davis (Street),” said Donnie Maley, a Weinberg junior who lives on Ridge. “Now it goes up Oak Avenue, which is basically our backyard.”

Maley said the previous route did not go anywhere near his apartment. Although he is more satisfied with the new route, he said it does have one disadvantage — those extra 10 minutes. But he said he doesn’t mind the wait because the shuttle now serves more students.

“It’s no big deal,” Maley said. “You’re probably doing something that you can just drag out anyway while waiting.”

He said the 10 minutes shouldn’t be disruptive to students because many of them make plans based on arbitrary shuttle times.

right turn?

Debra Garfi, senior manager of University Services, said the majority of students — including off-campus students — are satisfied with the new routes.

She said her e-mail address was put at the bottom of the notification about the changes and students’ response has been positive, except for a few complaints from those on Ridge, she said.

“We are hitting the places where people are going,” Garfi said.

But two shuttle drivers disagree. Driver Charlie Curry said students have recently been asking him to whom they can complain about the off-campus route.

“It’s inconvenient for a lot of students now,” said Curry, who has driven the shuttle for two years. “It was better before because at least everyone got where they needed to go.”

Curry and Natalie Murchison, another driver, agreed that much of the criticism could be silenced by simply taking a different turn. A left turn — instead of a right — onto Foster Street could resolve the issue with Ridge students, the drivers said. Rather than going up Sherman Avenue, the shuttle would drive along Ridge.

‘scared to walk alone at night’

NU also altered the shuttle’s path through Evanston. It now drives by The 1800 Club, 1800 Sherman Ave.; The Keg of Evanston, 810 Grove St.; and Prairie Moon, 1502 Sherman Ave.

Murchison said she feels the shuttle only transports people to and from bars in Evanston.

“Originally I thought (the new route) was for safety,” she said. “But now I see it’s just for the convenience of those going to bars.”

But Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis said the route was not changed to accommodate students coming from Evanston bars.

Murchison also said laziness and safety concerns were other factors for students who ride the shuttle. Even though students felt safer after the wave of attacks ended at the beginning of Winter Quarter, many still use the shuttle as a precautionary measure.

“I’m a young girl who is scared to walk alone at night,” said Emily Eisenberg. “It’s ridiculous how unsafe our campus is.”

Despite the added safety features such as improved lighting, Eisenberg, a Communication freshman, said many students are wary of walking alone at night. She said she appreciates changes to the on-campus route because the shorter route encourages more students to take it.

JUST A TEST DRIVE

Although many view the changes as an improvement, Garfi expects ridership to dip during May. But it will be hard to determine how much of the decrease is due to route changes.

Many students opt to walk during warmer weather and have less concern about campus safety. From October to January there were 11 incidents of students being attacked or assaulted. Since then only one student has been robbed.

Garfi said her office has not looked at ridership statistics for April. In the next few weeks, they will compare this April’s ridership with that of last April to measure the efficacy of the new routes.

Emphasizing that this is a “test phase,” Garfi said the routes could be altered during the fall if students are unhappy with them. University Services will conduct another survey later this month to see if students approve of the changes.

A disconnect between the Associated Student Government and University Services has existed for too long, said Alex Lurie, ASG student services vice president. Last Thursday he met with Garfi to discuss how student input can be more influential in determining shuttle routes. But Garfi said the changes already are student-driven.

Regardless of input, Lurie said he realizes NU will never be able to please every student.

“Right now the route is serving Northwestern students better but certainly there are some changes that need to be made,” said Lurie, a Communication sophomore.