Temple students who take advantage of the free shuttles that the university runs between campuses and housing sites are voicing concerns over recent changes in the shuttle system.
Temple provides three shuttle routes: Ambler to Main Campus, which stops at Tyler, Franklin House to Main Campus, and School of Podiatric Medicine to Health Sciences Campus, which stops at TUCC and Main Campus. All shuttles are free of charge.
The biggest change in shuttle services is the number of students using them.
“A lot of students moved to the area around Franklin House to take advantage of the shuttle,” said Tom Dinardo, director of support services in Facilities Management, “and a lot of students who live in the suburbs and don’t want to drive to Main Campus drive to Ambler or Tyler and take the shuttle in. We ended up providing a service we weren’t planning on providing by taking care of transportation for whoever needs it, and it’s put a strain on our resources.”
The result, according to Dinardo, is the need for overflow buses and “schedule tweaking.” The result, according to some students, is lateness and overcrowding. Students have reported being left behind because shuttles are too full, shuttles not showing up, and one student reported that a driver visited a food vendor on Spring Garden Street in the middle of his run.
Students are also raising concerns about the new route for the Franklin shuttle. In previous years, the shuttle stopped at 13th and Berks streets outside of Paley Library. Last fall the stop was moved to 12th and Berks streets.
Moving the shuttle stop required a slight change in routes. The Franklin shuttle now turns onto 11th Street off Spring Garden, travels past Main Campus to Diamond Street, then turns onto 12th Street. The shuttle sometimes deviates from this route, however. Dinardo said the reasons for random route changes include weather and traffic problems.
Dinardo cites the construction on 13th Street as the reason for the move. The university is constructing an addition to the Student Center. The demolition of Curtis Hall and the expansion of the Fox School of Business, both on 13th Street, are slated to begin next year.
Dinardo also said that 12th Street “is a hub,” with the Anderson vending pad across the street. A shelter and a stone path from Paley Library to the shuttle stop were built earlier this year.
“We made the path so students can wait inside Paley for the shuttle,” Dinardo said.
The shuttle service has a hotline (215-204-7377) for students to get shuttle information and voice their complaints.
“Most of the complaints we get are anecdotal,” said Dinardo. “Unfortunately there’s not much we can do about that sort of thing. But we’ve had fewer complaints this year than last year.”
“I think there should be more shuttles, or they should at least run more often,” said junior Sam Tuthill. “They should also play more music; some of them have satellite radio.”
In response to suggestions like Tuthill’s, Dinardo replied that more shuttles more often “isn’t possible or reasonable” for financial and systematic reasons.
“Kids are always complaining,” said senior Raana Kashi, veteran Franklin House shuttle rider. “I’m used to them being late now, so I just leave my apartment a long time before I actually have to be at class. Sometimes it takes half an hour to get to campus.”
Last Monday night, more than 60 students waited for the Franklin shuttle for close to an hour in freezing temperatures because of a mix-up in driver’s shifts. Junior Ronnie Lipinski was one of those students.
“I was waiting for the 7:25 shuttle and it didn’t show up. Then the 7:55 didn’t come either, and then the 8:25 didn’t come. I was outside for over an hour. It’s absolutely ridiculous that things like this happen,” Lipinski said. She called the shuttle hotline, but no one answered. She then tried contacting the Temple Police, but found no help there either. Students began asking Owl Loop drivers if they would consider taking up the Franklin House route since something was obviously wrong, but the drivers said they were not allowed.
Around 8:30 a.m., an employee of the shuttle system showed up to explain the mix-up to students. He said the bus was back on the road and would be there to pick them up shortly.
Dinardo said he contacted Keystone, the vendor contracted to run the Franklin and SPM shuttles, when he heard about the incident.
“We called them and got the situation straightened out. We told them we weren’t going to pay for that period of time,” Dinardo said.
He also said he would “follow up” on the hotline problem, saying “there should be another way to handle [the situation if a shuttle doesn’t show up].”
“I hope we’re providing the level of transportation that people need and desire,” said Dinardo. “It’s upsetting for us [when the shuttles aren’t running properly]. We’re hiring a company to do a job and we want to make sure they’re doing it well .If we’re not providing a good service, we want to know so we can change that.”
Lindsey Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.