Lehigh Transportation Services and Student Senate are working closely to improve transportation on campus by proposing new bus routes that will potentially go into effect in the fall of next year.
As part of the university’s master plan, Lehigh Transportation is working on a set of proposals to provide students with mechanisms for better accessibility, better passenger comfort and cleaner energy use. According to Robert Bruneio, manager of Transportation Services, there will be two new routes around campus — Campus Connector and Packer Express.
The first proposed route, Campus Connector, would include 18 stops, with two stops added to Goodman Campus as well as two more in Sayre Park. There will be two buses running from both the Packer Avenue and the Saucon Village ends. The Campus Connector route will take up to 10 minutes from Packer Avenue to Mountaintop campus and 10 minutes from Saucon Village to Mountaintop. As a result, there will be six pick-ups per hour. The service time will be consistent with existing service hours, running from 7:20-12:25 a.m.
The second proposed route is called the Packer Express. This route will have a total of 11 stops with two new stops added. There will be 10 pick-ups per hour. The Packer Express will take up to six minutes to get from Packer Avenue to last the stop on Upper Sayre Park Road. According to the plan, the time will be consistent with existing service, which runs from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. However, there is a potential chance that it will run until 10 p.m. when TRACS service starts.
“All of the buses that are used for the new routes will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Bruneio said. “The Packer Express will be serviced by our current 96-passenger transit buses, while the Campus Connector will be serviced by the 28-passenger buses.”
In the past, Lehigh Transportation has had consulting groups come in to analyze the times and volume of both proposed routes to determine what works best for the potential plan.
“The proposal is not official yet because we want to hear feedback from the Lehigh community,” Bruneio said. “We work closely with Student Senate, but we will also make presentations to different groups including members of the Greek community, faculty, staff and senior leadership to get more feedback.”
The proposal will be rolled out in phases and potential implementation of the new routes will start in the fall of 2016.
According to Bruneio, the master plan will not only try to improve transportation on lower campus, but also service to South Side businesses and Goodman Campus. Their objective is to bring a more efficient system with takes into consideration time, stop locations and bus shelters.
With that being said, transportation on campus has always been one of the biggest concerns of Student Senate.
“We conducted a survey each year and one of the biggest issues on campus is transportation,” said Sonia Velez, ’17, a member of Student Senate. The transportation committee within Senate has worked to improve students’ experience with transportation.
According to Hiyab Stefanos, ’16, chair of the transportation committee, some of their accomplishments included the bus display on Packard Avenue, having the TRACS service run during the day on Sundays, improving the LehighULive app, improving Wi-Fi around campus, making the campus more accessible to people with disabilities and following up with the buses to ensure they are on time.
Student Senate plays an important role in the proposal plan since they are working closely with Transportation Services to make these plans possible and providing direct feedback from the student body.
“We are hoping that the new bus routes will give students a better experience by making it easier to get up the hill in a timely manner so that students do not have to use their cars around campus,” Stefanos said. “Additionally, the committee’s goal this year is to improve the experience that students have with transportation so that cars are not a necessity to get around campus, and addressing any other concern in an effective manner.”