Although many students rely on Loyola’s intercampus shuttle to get to and from the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses, some said using the service has become a hassle.
The shuttle serves as an alternative to the CTA, but some students said the buses don’t always come on time, and others said they’ve noticed serious issues while riding the bus, including mechanical problems.
Regan Price, 19, said she was on the shuttle when it malfunctioned and broke down.
“I was on the shuttle coming back to Lake Shore from the Water Tower Campus and luckily the shuttle didn’t start having issues until it started turning into Loyola from Sheridan,” the sophomore management and information systems double major said. “As soon as we rounded the corner there and the bus slowed to a stop to let pedestrians cross, [and] it shut down and couldn’t go any further.”
This semester, there have been four mechanical issues where a bus had to go out of service or be replaced, according to Manager of Campus Transportation Gretchen Carey. Two were in August and two were in September.
Carey said she didn’t have details about the shuttle’s history of malfunctions and incidents.
While Carey said she was unsure if the shuttle malfunction Price experienced was one of the four, she said it very well could have been.
Manager at MV Transportation Andy Steed said that sometimes mechanics will check out a bus on site if a driver suspects something could be wrong. Buses have also been examined to keep their GPS tracking systems updated.
Steed confirmed that MV Transportation reported four incidents this semester, but he said three of those were technology-related and none were “breakdowns.”
“We haven’t had any breakdowns with the shuttles that have affected service,” Steed said. “I understand how the students may see it. They see people coming out and they’re swapping vehicles out or they see mechanics going on or off vehicles. That’s going to happen on a day-to-day service. If they’re out checking something to do with one of the buses not responding [or] not tracking properly on our computer system or whatever, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the vehicle.”
Sophomore accounting major Sydney Burlew said she used the web app called mobi, which lets students track the shuttle online, to see when the bus would arrive, but found it wasn’t always reliable.
Carey said timing is a common complaint from students, but it’s something that is being monitored.
“The mobi bus website is something that MV [Transportation] has been continuing to work on more and more,” Carey said. “We’re noticing a marked improvement in where we’re at with that and I think that helps students judge when the actual shuttle bus will be here.”
Loyola has a contract with MV Transportation, which provides the buses and drivers. MV Transportation is in its fourth year of its contract, but Loyola has worked with other companies in the past, according to Carey.
Carey said the buses go through thorough maintenance over the summer and she doesn’t think this semester is any better or worse than previous ones.
“I’ve been here in capacity as an office assistant before,” Carey said. “We haven’t had more reported incidents that I know of than we have in previous years.”
Lizzy Thornton, 19, said she was waiting about half an hour for the shuttle to depart, and once it did, the driver got distracted and caused more delay.
“We finally started moving and then the guy saw somebody he knew so he stopped the bus, got off the bus and started talking,” the management and entrepreneurship double major said.
Carey said there have been some complaints about driver behavior, and they are handled by MV.
“Those should not be commonplace,” Carey said.
The Phoenix reached out to some of the shuttle drivers, but they declined to comment, most saying they were new employees.
Steed said about 40 percent of drivers were turned over since summer, but added this turnover rate is lower compared to the transportation industry in general.