About 1,600 rides a day – and still not enough.
Some students and staff say the shuttle buses running to and from Main Campus do not have enough room during peak hours, forcing some riders to pack in aisles and others to miss their ride.
Proposals to solve the problems are causing debate. While some riders argue for shuttles to run more often, administration says service is up to par and asks students to change their schedules instead.
“This morning [Wednesday] the aisles were so packed that there were three people standing in the doorway and kids sitting on the floor in the back of the bus,” said 20-year-old Franklin House resident Meredith Stone.
The shuttles, which have a maximum capacity of 59 to 70 people, warn riders there are “No Standees Permitted.” They run daily on weekdays four times an hour from 7:10 a.m. to 6:40 p.m., and make stops at Broad and Spring Garden streets, 20th and Spring Garden streets and the Franklin House at 501 N. 22nd St.
Even with four buses running each hour during the early morning and late afternoon, some say they’re lucky to even get on the bus.
“The one time there were people standing in the aisles and the shuttle went by because too many people were on the bus already,” transfer student Matt Mitchell said. “They all threw their hands up in the air like they didn’t know what was going on.”
Temple’s Office of University Housing said all residence halls, including the Franklin House, are convenient to academic and administrative areas on campus. Support Services, which is part of the Office of Facilities Management, is in charge of the transportation services.
The Franklin House shuttle, according to Director of Support Services Thomas Dinardo, was established to create this convenience by providing “reliable, regular service to and from Main Campus for the residents of Franklin House who are enrolled in the Temple Housing program.”
Franklin House resident Amanda Pasternack, 20, said the shuttle is the exact opposite.
“I like living at the Franklin House, but the shuttle is just an inconvenience,” Pasternack said.
The growing demand for seats can be attributed to a few factors. In the three years the Franklin House shuttle buses have been running, they have attracted an abundance of off-campus upperclassmen and faculty looking for an alternative mode of transportation.
When the university implemented its housing policy that placed junior and seniors off campus, many students flocked to the Art Museum area with hopes of using the shuttle to save money on transportation.
“I needed to get off campus and I wanted to be close to the shuttle,” senior Ned Rauch-Mannino said. “If the shuttle wasn’t there I’d be living in Rittenhouse.”
The shuttle is also an attractive option to people concerned about the environment. Passengers like professor Lewis Gordon look at the shuttle bus as a prime opportunity to carpool and decrease air pollution.
“By encouraging fewer students and faculty to drive, [the shuttle] is also serving an important ecological function,” Gordon said. “It would be good if during [peak] hours there were two shuttles running in close proximity to each other.”
To solve the problem of overcrowding, many students feel more shuttles should be run during certain peak hours.
“Pay attention to what hours of the day people use the shuttles, and just add more buses,” Franklin House resident Eric Gomsi said.
During peak times shuttles have been overcrowded, Dinardo said, but the busier hours follow regular rush hour patterns. Dinardo said the shuttle schedules shouldn’t be changed.
“With the exception of a few overflows at certain peak times at the beginning of the school year, which tend to adjust within a week or two, we believe it is providing the service that was intended – and more – in its current status,” Dinardo said.
Support Services does not plan on adding poles or straps in the aisles to make the bus safer for passengers to stand, Dinardo said.
“Since this service is every 15 minutes during the week, it would not be necessary to have more capacity on each individual bus,” Dinardo said. “Any students who cannot get onto a bus for these reasons can either plan to take an earlier bus or the very next one as a part of their regular trips to and from Main Campus.”
Some students say the Franklin House shuttle is just part of a larger problem sparking complaints. The Ambler and Tyler shuttles run approximately once an hour on weekdays, and some students say the buses are too overcrowded and infrequent.
“With the influx of freshmen there has been an obvious increase in passengers,” senior Leena Kurian said. “My issue is that the Ambler shuttle only comes on the hour. Yesterday at 1:40 p.m. it was ridiculously crowded. They should add another bus or split the locations.”
Some students recommend taking Dinardo’s advice and adjusting to the shuttle schedules if students have classes during peak hours, or giving up on the shuttles altogether.
“Lately I have been driving to school because I can’t take waiting for the shuttles,” senior Nicole Pugliese said. “And don’t even get me started on parking on campus.”
For questions or comments about the shuttle service, log on to www.temple.edu/facilities.
Jillian Bauer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.