The Daily Californian Online

Campus Rethinks Night Shuttle System

By Christine Chen
Contributing Writer
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Category: News > Parking and Transportation

Night shuttles currently drive set routes. A new plan aims to replace them with a system similar to the UCPD-operated Owl Line.

Students may be utilizing a different night transportation system than the current campus-run night shuttles next year, according to preliminary proposals by the campus.

UC Berkeley officials want to change the current night safety shuttle operation to run more similarly to the Owl Line, a UCPD-operated service, which is available by dispatch. By contrast, the night shuttle stops at pre-designated locations every 30 minutes.

Under the proposal, campus officials may replace the four night shuttles with four UCPD or campus parking transportation vans.

The proposal is in response to the expiration of a lease between the campus and AC Transit, which will end in December, said Seamus Wilmot, the campus's interim director of parking and transportation.

Sophomore Negar Foolad said she prefers the current system of a shuttle operating with a set schedule because it is more reliable.

"It's so inconvenient to have to call. It's much better if you know it's coming at the scheduled time," Foolad said.

The night shuttle's hours of operation will still be between 7:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. The Owl Line, which runs between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., will not be affected by the changes, according to Wilmot.

Besides the expiration of the AC Transit lease, Wilmot said the potential changes to the bus system are in response to complaints from students about waiting a long time for the night shuttle to pick them up.

"We're trying to have a better service. Students can be in the library and call in," Wilmot said.

Some students said they thought the current system provided a safe and effective mode of transportation.

"I think the night shuttle system is an important tool for us students who spend long hours on campus," said sophomore Aditi Gupta.

Others raised concerns that the new shuttle system would not be able to accommodate as many students. However, Wilmot said the four vans could probably cover the transportation for the number of students who typically used it each night.

"Our preliminary data shows that we'll be able to handle what seems like most nights," he said. "With the four vans, if a lot of requests were coming from a certain part of campus, we could deploy two to three vans to that part of campus."

The possibility of changing the night shuttle system brings into focus safety issues for students on campus, said night shuttle driver Dwayne McBride.

McBride said he does not believe the proposed system will be as effective at preventing students from being exposed to crime as the current system.

"We all know about problems we have on campus with crime, and that's not an area I think the university should cut corners at," he said.

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