In Bob Bruneio’s office is a large map of Lehigh’s three campuses, stretching across 1,600 acres.
Bruneio, the manager of Lehigh’s Transportation Services, is responsible for efficiently commuting students, staff and faculty across campuses. Once transversed by four buses on three routes, the new Connections transit plan has streamlined cross-campus traffic into two routes and six daily buses.
So far, Bruneio said he believes that the plan has succeeded.
“It’ll get you to where you need to go in a more efficient manner,” Bruneio said. “We’re covering areas like SouthSide (Commons) and the commuter lots now.”
The new plan also visits satellite campus locations Mountaintop and Goodman campuses, with greater frequency at night. From 8 p.m.- 2:30 a.m., two buses circle South Mountain across the entire span of the university.
For residents of Saucon Village, like Yonghong Bai, ’16G, who is in the third year of his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering, the new plan is beneficial.
“Before the new system, I was usually driving to my 9 p.m. lab (on Packer campus),” Bai said.
Bai said the new transit system helps him save money on gas.
Lehigh bus driver Jamie Lapp said the Connections plan has been received well by the students that he’s spoken to.
“I think it’s great customer service,” Lapp said. “There’s more opportunities for the students to get off where they want. And they’ve been very respectful.”
Lapp drives the newest addition in Transportation Services’ fleet: one of two new buses with wheelchair-accessible entry, 36 lounge-style seats and reconcentration technology that reduces Lehigh’s carbon footprint.
“There’s been lots of great feedback on the (new bus),” Lapp said. “There’s a lot less rattle, and (it’s) a lot more comfortable ride.”
However, the newness of the system has confused students like Bai.
“There’s one problem: because of the Lehigh Live App, I sometimes couldn’t find the bus,” he said. “I missed class.”
Additionally, Lapp said he thinks that Connections’ stops on the Packer campus border, like the ones near STEPS and Whitaker Lab, require some renovation. He said there needs to be more lighting at the stops.
Bruneio said he supports revisions of the plan. Even with initially positive feedback, Bruneio said Transportation Services will continue to meet student needs. By July 1, the university will construct bus shelters on the corners of Packer and Vine streets and Packer and Webster streets, with hopes for a Farrington Square shelter to follow, he said.
He said bus users should submit feedback on the Connections plan web page, and Transportation Services will revise the plan according to concerns with the university’s new parking plan, coming in fall 2019. He said there will also be an electric bus next semester.
“We can’t say that all concerns will be implemented,” Bruneio said. “(But) anything to make our system better for our community is what we’re all about.”