From December 3 to January 22, the Gus Bus will be operating a little differently. After much deliberation within Student Senate and the campus community at large, Senate has decided to implement a six-week trial period in which the bus will run on a strictly route-based system, in contrast to the current “dial-a-ride” system.
Discussions about a change to the current system were initiated after Peer Assistants, Campus Safety and numerous students on campus expressed concerns about the flaws in the structure of the Gus Bus.
One of the most prominent issues with the current “dial-a-ride” system is that of communication between those wanting to ride the bus and the drivers. “The biggest issue was that students were calling and not getting a hold of [the drivers],” Senior Religion and Political Science Major Courtney West said.
West, a member of Student Senate, has been heading the Gus Bus reform and added that another problem is drivers will often be overwhelmed with the amount of calls on any given night and will not be able to keep track of who has called, etc. In addition, constantly answering calls while driving is dangerous for both drivers and passengers.
The new trial system will operate as a route with 14 stops, taking about 20-30 minutes round-trip. The stops on campus will be the same as before, while some changes were made to off-campus stops depending on the accessibility and usage of the sites. Every residence hall has a pick-up/drop-off site, with the exception of Rundstrom Hall and Pittman and Sohre Halls. Students from these locations may access the same stops as always at 7th and College (the Gustavus sign at the main entrance of campus) and the Interpretive Center parking lot, respectively.
The decision to try a different system was the result of much deliberation within Student Senate and the campus community as a whole. “We wanted their [the students’] opinion,” West said. Senate released a survey to get these opinions.
We were happy with the response rate,” she said. They received 549 responses (roughly 20 percent of campus population) from a wide spectrum of students with the majority in favor of the trial period. With 59 percent in favor of at least trying the six-week period and 17% percent saying to make the change completely, Senate decided to go ahead with a trial period.
In addition to the survey results, West also conducted research as to what other schools similar to Gustavus do in regard to student transportation. “The majority are route-like systems,” she said “if they have a system at all.”
Senate chose December 3—January 22 as the trial period so as to receive feedback from a wide range of students. The weeks in December will ensure responses from upperclassmen while, the weeks during January Interim Experience will ensure responses from sophomore and first-year students who make up the majority of students on campus during the month.
At the end of the six weeks, “we’ll reevaluate the whole thing,” West said. Senate will send out another survey and determine if students liked the change or want to return to the old system. The survey will also provide a forum to suggest the addition or subtraction of stops to the route. Good or bad, West was clear that Senate wants constructive feedback after all is said and done.
“It’s a trial. It’s six weeks. If it works, it works; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t work, we’ll go back [to the old system],” West said. “Nothing is set in stone.”
To increase the saliency of the change, Senate is in the process of launching a publicity campaign to raise awareness of the trial period. Students should be looking for posters around campus, Facebook updates and e-mails to remind them of the new system. There will also be maps of the Gus Bus route distributed in students’ P.O. boxes in the coming weeks. Students are encouraged to contact their Student Senator with questions and comments regarding the change.
Trial Period Logistics
- The trial runs from December 3—January 22.
- The bus will run the same hours and dates as always.
- No phone call requests will be taken during the trial period.
- One bus will run in each direction on the route.
- ONE bus will run strictly from Nicollet County Bank to the campus locations between 1:15 and 2:00 a.m.—ALL campus locations in the same order. The other bus will stay on its regular route.
- There will be a survey at the end of the six-week trial period for input and student opinions.
- Students are encouraged to approach their senators with concerns and comments.
The stops will be in this order
- Nicollet County Bank
- Community Center
- 5th & College
- 4th & Jefferson
- Arbor View Apartments
- Interpretive Center Parking Lot
- Southwest Hall
- College View Apartments
- Co-Ed/Norelius Hall
- 7th & College
- Catholic church
- North Intermediate
- 5th & Broadway