Lehigh Transportation and Parking Services made changes to campus transportation for the spring 2023 semester.
Changes include the discontinuation of the OnDemand bus service and the introduction of the Mountaintop Express, Saucon Express and Goodman Express.
According to the Transportation Office’s announcement on Jan. 19, the three new bus routes will operate in addition to the Packer Express and the Campus Connector. The changes aim to serve Mountaintop Campus, Saucon Village and Goodman Campus more effectively.
There are now bus routes specific to Mountaintop Campus, Goodman Campus and Saucon Village, unlike in the fall.
On weekdays, the Mountaintop Express transports passengers between the Asa Packer and Mountaintop campuses, the Saucon Express transports passengers between Saucon Village and the Goodman and Mountaintop campuses, and the Goodman Express transports passengers between all three campuses and Saucon Village.
The Packer Express is operating as it did in the fall, with one bus available from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. on weekdays and one bus available from 10 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. on the weekends.
On weekends, the Campus Connector will service all three campuses and Saucon Village, with one van operating from 10 a.m. to midnight.
Sharon Kay Field, director of Parking and Transportation Services, wrote in an email to The Brown and White these updates were made at the beginning of the spring semester based on feedback from students, and they will continue to be adjusted to meet riders’ needs as more feedback comes in.
Kamryn Li, ‘25, who lives in the Pi Beta Phi house on the Hill, said she takes the bus about twice a day.
“I think (the new routes) let people who need to get to class on Mountaintop get there faster and people living on the Hill can get there easier and faster, on the way up and down,” Li said.
Lehigh’s Transloc OnDemand Bus Service, which gave students the option to schedule rides and set pick-up and drop-off points alternative to the set bus stops, has been discontinued.
Peindo Niangane, ‘25, said she found the Transloc service helpful and used it often last semester. She said she thinks getting rid of the service was a bad idea.
Field said the OnDemand service is no longer offered because the Campus Connector will be transporting passengers to all three campuses and Saucon Village.
Another complaint among students is a lack of space on buses and vans.
The vans used for the Saucon Express and Campus Connector routes fit up to 15 passengers at a time.
“I hate the vans,” Ethan Perlman, ‘25, said. “They don’t have enough room.”
Perlman said he found the buses and vans were always full last semester. He said this inconveniences students who use the bus because walking up the hill is not always feasible for students and parking on campus is limited.
“There are a lot of students on this campus, and this campus is big,” Niangane said. “I live all the way up in Sayre, so that’s far. I’m grateful for the bus system, but right now, with all the new maps and stuff, (it is) kind of confusing.”
Niangane said she wishes the drivers would announce where the bus was headed to make it clearer for students.
Students can track the buses in real-time, see estimated departure times and view a list of all bus stop locations at bus.lehigh.edu. Students can also check bus routes using the DoubleMap app.
Field wrote that the main focus of her office is to collect and analyze the ridership data and feedback so they can continue to make improvements as needed.
“While some individual requests may not all be accommodated, we are looking at common themes and making changes to best meet the needs of our students, faculty and staff with the resources we have,” Field wrote. “These routes are a pilot program and we’ll continue to make adjustments as needs and resources change.”