TRACS replaced under Path to Prominence plan

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Lehigh University’s TRACS is a transportation service that provides students with safe rides from 10:45 P.M. to 2:15 A.M. year round. Certain TRACS stops around campus have been elimanted over the past several years, specifically around senior off-campus housing. (Jillian Wolfson/B&W Staff)

After 31 years, Lehigh’s Transportation Services has proposed an end to TRACS — the ‘Take a Ride Around Campus Safely’ service often used during the late night and early morning hours.

Bob Bruneio, the manager of transportation and transit services, said this change is a result of the Path to Prominence.

“Under the new proposed transportation plan, TRACS will be incorporated into the Campus Connector Service, which will run until 2:30 a.m.,” Bruneio said. “The proposed Campus Connector will utilize a bus instead of a van and will increase bus stop locations to include the area of Third and New Streets, Mountaintop and Saucon Village.”

Bruneio said TRACS was created to give students a safe ride around campus at night. He said 7,399 passengers used the service in the fall 2017 semester and 7,783 in the spring 2018 semester. Although the service is changing, Bruneio said campus transit services are being evaluated to ensure there are still adequate transportation options available to the university community.

Chris Houtz, the assistant chief of the Lehigh University Police Department, said there will still be safe options during the evening hours.

“I think the students have a lot of opportunities for safe travel,” Houtz said. “We try and do as much as we can to make sure they’re safe, and it’s up to them to take advantage of that.”

Haley Morris, ’20, has been a user and supporter of TRACS. However, she said there are flaws to the service.

“I think the schedule is sometimes unpredictable and unreliable,” Morris said.

While many students have found the service helpful, alternative services like Uber and Lyft have often replaced TRACS as a safe way to get home.

“I used TRACS freshman year when it stopped on East Fifth (Street), but ever since it stopped coming to East Fifth (Street), I just used Uber,” Michelle Amorison, ’19, said.

Anthony Morrone, ’19, who lives off-campus, said he doesn’t use TRACS because his residence on East Fifth Street is no longer a pick-up spot.

Houtz said TRACS aside, there are alternative ways for students to feel safe when traveling at night. He said students can download the HAWKS Watch app to their phones as an additional safety measure.

The app includes a mobile blue light that tracks users as they walk and contains emergency contact numbers. He said the app is free to download on the app store and Google Play for students, faculty and staff.

Without TRACS as an option for getting a ride home, students have to adapt to the university’s new transportation plan.

“I think removing that option for students was a mistake,” Amorison said. “Now we are spending so much money on Uber when we could be receiving (a ride for) free from the school.”

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