A Lehigh University bus stops on Feb. 23 at the Farrington Square bus station. Despite recent changes to the bus system, an industry-wide bus driver shortage has led to a rise in Lehigh student's complaints about timeliness and accessibility. (Tommy Wang/B&W Staff)

Bus wait times cause frustrations


Lehigh has recently implemented changes to its bus system; however, an industry-wide bus driver shortage has caused student complaints about timeliness and accessibility. 

Benjamin Sucheski, ‘26, has noticed common issues within the bus systems. 

“There’s a (common occurrence) where there’s two buses stacked up, one behind the other,” Sucheski said. “And then you have to wait another ten minutes for the next bus to come around.” 

He said many of his friends rely heavily on the buses’ timing to get to their classes, but due to unreliable wait times, it’s often difficult for them to make it on time. 

Sucheski said one of the issues with the bus route has actually come from the students themselves.

“I think a big problem is just how slow the buses are just in the traffic around the stops,” Sucheski said. “Students are just not giving them enough room to move.” 

This specifically happens in between classes, when an influx of students get onto buses and cross streets, which impacts the buses’ ability to move on schedule.

A new bus app, goLehighTransit, was implemented in September to replace the DoubleMap app. The goLehighTransit app tracks buses with additional features, like exact wait times and capacity levels. 

Sharon Field, director of Transportation and Parking Services, said the old app was unreliable.

“The app (DoubleMap) would often not function properly, and buses were not being tracked.” Field said. “(With the new app) we have received positive feedback from the Lehigh community.” 

Field said Transportation Services is continuously monitoring the app’s accuracy to make sure it’s meeting the community’s needs. 

While this app has been an improvement to the bus system, Lehigh is also experiencing difficulties with the industry-wide shortage of bus drivers. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, school bus driver employment rates have decreased by 15.1% since September 2019.   

Alec Jang, ‘25, chair of the Facilities and Services Committee on Student Senate, said one of the most common complaints he receives is about the bus system.   

He explained that the greatest difficulty has been finding drivers. 

“It’s not exactly a lack of physical buses, Lehigh actually has many buses at Mountaintop right now,” Jang said. “It’s really hard to hire bus drivers who are willing to go around campus.” 

The difficulty of finding drivers is sometimes related to Lehigh’s rugged terrain. Field said Transportation Services and Lehigh Facilities collaborate on clearing campus roadways during adverse weather conditions, but they don’t have the ability to manage roads off-campus.  

Our challenge is the roadways not owned and managed by Lehigh,” Field said. “They aren’t always cleared of snow in a timely manner which causes delays at the start of the bus services.”

Due to the bus driver shortage, Jang said the Student Senate had the idea of creating a work study position and hiring students to drive the buses. 

However, because Lehigh is not a state school and does not have the funding for training sessions, it’s difficult to find the funds to move forward with the idea. 

That said, Field said improvements are and can continue to be made based on feedback collected through the Auxiliary Experience Program released last fall. 

This program utilizes work-study students to evaluate all auxiliary services, including our bus routes,” Field said. “Overall, feedback has been positive, and we are currently evaluating and implementing several suggestions received last fall.”

Additionally a QR feedback form will be added to all bus shelters and posted inside buses, he said.

“We address complaints as we receive them and make changes when possible.” Field said. “As mentioned previously, changes need to be made with financial resources and staffing in mind.”

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  1. the Lehigh bus system has gotten better with the new app.. you got the packer mt top and Goodman campus bus all buses run the same paths threw paker campus..one of the buses maybe Goodman should go up lower Sayre dr. instead of following my top and packer. all the buses say express on them well an express does stop at every stop. one of the buses can run up pass grace hall an pass hawksnest. then over to Taylor. this should stop the buses from being behind each other.. packer Express is really nice but really it’s a waste when you got two other buses following the same path.. it still needs work the roads need to be one way in a giant circle to make this happen and make a better .. upper sayer can be one way south lower Sayre can be one way north hill dr can say two making a smaller circle..theirs plenty of room for improvement….. mt top can drop off at lookout point north and circle back up look out Dr South and back to Mt top

  2. Ceasefire group were demanding& disrespectful. Many of them should have been cut off & many refused to give their addresses

    Moving public comment on general topics to the end of meeting makes sense..

    Agree that only residents including nonprofit entity’s & taxpayers should be permitted to speak.

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