Opinion

Fix the Shuttle Boarding Process on Lake Shore Campus

Patrick Monnin | The PhoenixThe lack of an organized shuttle line on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus forces students to congregate in a disorganized group.

The Loyola intercampus shuttle plays an integral role in the day-to-day activities of students and faculty at Loyola. Serving as the lifeline between Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus in Rogers Park and its Water Tower Campus, roughly seven and a half miles away in the Gold Coast, the intercampus shuttle is responsible for the efficient commute of students with increasingly busy schedules. Despite the shuttle bus playing a crucial role in student commutes, there’s little organization to its boarding process on the Lake Shore Campus.

Students waiting to take the shuttle downtown from Lake Shore Campus must do so as a disorganized cluster of people. The lack of a formal line often leaves students frustrated and disillusioned, as the order in which one gets to the waiting area has little bearing on when one boards the bus — sometimes robbing those who arrived first of seats.

Loyola sophomore Charlie O’Gorman, a 19-year-old informations systems and entrepreneurship major, said he’s familiar with the frustration associated with getting in line early and not getting a seat.

“It’s insane to me that by design, the people who show up first often get on the shuttle last, especially in the winter,” he said. “There has to be a better way.”

To find a viable solution for the lack of structure, look no further than the shuttle boarding process at the Water Tower Campus. At Water Tower, there’s a structured, indoor line that’s usually directed by at least one shuttle worker during busy hours. The first students in line are almost always the first to board.

Implementing some of the structural elements from the Water Tower boarding process on Lake Shore would not only make the process more efficient, but would be low cost relative to other university expenses. To organize the line would take no more than 65 feet of crowd control bands, which would amount to approximately $400, according to prices set on Amazon. In addition to this, all that would be needed is a sign indicating where the line is located.

There’s no good indoor space on North Kenmore Avenue, where students board the shuttle, for the creation of an organized line. Currently, students congregate on public sidewalk space in front of the statue of the Rev. Arnold J. Damen, S.J., in the warmer months before Thanksgiving and after spring break. There’s a shuttle bus waiting area under the visitor parking garage that’s used between Thanksgiving and spring break — one that’s not big enough to handle student shuttle demand.

A possible location, however, that would satisfy both safety and functionality needs would be under the visitor parking garage next to the Campus Transportation office. Here, there’s sufficient space to organize the line with crowd control bands, and ample shelter from the elements. During the winter months, Loyola could utilize overhead heaters similar to the ones the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) uses at L stops to keep people warm. Such heaters would cost approximately $1,200, according to the prices on Amazon,  bringing the total cost of the line to around $1,600.

Loyola had more than $563 million in operating expenses in the past year, according to the most recent university financial statements. A one-time expenditure of $1,600 would fix the chaotic shuttle boarding process on Lake Shore — a process that impacts thousands of students each day.

Gretchen Carey, manager of campus transportation at Loyola, said “student feedback” drives the changes that campus transportation makes to the intercampus shuttle and 8-RIDE programs. Further, she said Campus Transportation “is always open to suggestions and feedback in an effort to improve the student experience.”

The cost of creating a more efficient, fair boarding process on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus is low and the benefits high. Why make things more complicated than they need to be? The creation of an organized shuttle line is an easy task that would make the lives of students and faculty easier.

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