A transit system performance review meeting was held to hear the concerns of commuting students and faculty who are not pleased with the new transportation system and the lack of access to their designated parking lots. Students and faculty said they sometimes have to pay meters to get to class on time, because the buses that drop off at commuting lots are too infrequent. (Xinru Qin/B&W staff)

Connections transit system to make changes based on commuter feedback

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Students and faculty — especially commuters — have filed complaints about the new transit system since its launch in March, concerning its efficiency, speed and locale across campus. In response, the Connections Initiative plans to remedy these issues.

The overarching goal of the transit system is to be efficient and seamless, while “supporting a car-free campus and reducing reliance on the personal vehicle, integrating the three campuses and fully utilizing all existing parking facilities,” according to a presentation by Sarah Iric, ‘07, a consultant for the Connections Initiative. 

Iric held a transit system performance review for commuter lot permit holders and took questions and feedback from attendees in room 303 in the University Center on Tuesday afternoon. Two other sessions were held on Monday, Oct. 28, and Wednesday, Oct. 30. 

“A lot of the problems we’ve had the past two months (are) because of how (the transit system route) grew and how fast (it) grew,” Iric said. “There are also 15 new drivers, and they’re still learning the campus.” 

Iric acknowledges these problems, and she said the office is working on a smarter mobile application and is brainstorming ways to make the bus system more efficient for all users. 

The main complaints include the travel time to and from Goodman Campus for commuters, the inaccuracy of the bus tracker, long wait times for the bus and the infrequency of buses at night. 

Viola Yu, ‘21, a commuter who attended the meeting, said the bus system is unreliable and makes it difficult to decide where to park. 

“I have a problem with Mountaintop (Campus) especially,” she said. 

When she fears she won’t have time to get down from Goodman Campus because of the bus delay, Yu said she parks on the main campus and has to pay the meter, rather than use her commuter permit. 

Another student who attended the meeting, Gina Angelo, ‘22, said the app is unreliable. 

“It’s very frustrating when a bus is not in service, but it’s still on the app,” Angelo said. “I watched five buses pass me, not in service, to get to the bus lot. I had to wait an hour to get picked up from Goodman (Campus).” 

Angelo said she often gets her car on the weekend. She said she has to prepare in advance and take two hours out of her day to account for the slow buses and how infrequently they run. 

When Angelo retrieves her car at night, she said there are, at most, only two buses running.

“Being stranded on Goodman Campus makes me feel stranded and hopeless,” she said. “The one little blue light does not make me feel better.”

Some faculty members at the meeting praised the new Founders Way Express, the bus that takes them to and from SteelStacks, where a commuter lot is located. However, when the bus takes too long to arrive, they would rather just walk instead of wait in worsening weather conditions. 

Natalia Montero, ‘22, said going to the commuter lot is inconvenient for her. She said her house is closer to campus than the lot is, so using the commuter lot would increase her commute by an hour.

Angie Rizzo, ‘19, ‘20G, said the new route has made commuting difficult for faculty. She said some faculty members she works with used to have 30-minute commutes, and now they have around two-hour commutes because of the delayed bus schedule. 

Rizzo also said it is difficult to get a bus up to the lot after 9 p.m. She said it takes commuters a long time to get home because they are unsure of when the next bus will come. 

Iric addressed these issues at the meeting. Several improvements are being considered by the Connections Initiative, including extending either the Campus Connector or Packer Express route, extending Founders Way to other locations on campus, adding shuttles and stops to the upper campus, eliminating stops with low ridership, fixing the bus tracker and making it more accurate, and adding additional buses to the system.

The office hopes to implement some of these changes by spring 2020. 

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1 Comment

  1. Iric ’07 should be ashamed of herself for coming up with this “plan.” I’m also an alum and I’m embarrassed with where this has gone but at least I didn’t create it! Parking services should be ashamed for asking us to give up our lunch break to go and hear them dismiss our very real complaints. There would be enough parking for everyone if the parking services office wasn’t completely greedy. It costs $50 for a city of Bethlehem permit yet Lehigh’s is $500.

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