Letter to the Editor: The cold reality of the Frostbite Shuttle

On a good day, 10 minutes to walk between classes on North and South campus is barely enough. When it’s 50 degrees below freezing, it can take a little longer — and can be far more perilous.

That’s arguably why we have the Frostbite shuttle: to keep students, faculty and staff safe in situations when exposed skin can be frostbitten in 10 minutes or fewer.

Frostbite shuttles have developed a reputation for unreliability among students. In conditions when on-time stops are crucial, Frostbite shuttles are frequently delayed. We routinely hear reports of students waiting 10-15 minutes past expected arrival times, and stories of students giving up entirely on the Frostbite shuttle are also far too common. When they arrive, the shuttles are also often occupied at capacity, forcing drivers to turn away students who have already waited far too long in the cold. This is especially a problem for off-campus students for whom abandoning hope in the shuttles and walking to class would mean 15 or 20 minutes trudging through snow and high winds.

That’s why we’re deeply concerned by what appears to be the University’s increasing reliance on the Frostbite shuttle to transport students safely between classes and meetings in extreme weather.

Administrators often cite the operation of Frostbite shuttles as a reassuring guarantee of student safety when deciding to keep the school open on days like Monday.

Frostbite routes cannot take a student from South to North campus in the last 10 minutes of every hour, or between :20 and :30 — the ‘passing periods’ for classes at Northwestern. The routes are neither designed nor timed to do so.

We have conveyed these concerns to several administrators, many of whom share our alarm. The University must take immediate steps to provide its transportation services with the resources necessary to increase the frequency and capacity of Frostbite shuttles — perhaps on par with shuttles for athletic events. If it cannot or will not, then the University must stop directing students to the shuttles as a safe and expedient alternative to walking in polar winds.


Ani Ajith
Student Body President

Alex Van Atta
ASG Executive Vice President

Anna Kottenstette
ASG Vice President for Student Life

Haley Hinkle
ASG Director of Transportation Initiatives