Loyola’s Shuttle Should Change Its Route

Deputy news editor Hunter Minné and photo editor Holden Green dive into the inefficiency of the route taken by the intercampus shuttle.

Loyola is wasting your time.

Every day from 7 a.m. to 12:15 a.m. the next day, Loyola’s intercampus shuttle ferries students back and forth between the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses, taking an average of 30 minutes per trip, according to the senior manager of Campus Transportation Gretchen Carey.

Unfortunately, the shuttle takes a route between the two campuses that is less efficient than alternatives and wastes an average of 3 minutes and 38 seconds every trip.

Leaving the Lake Shore Campus, the shuttle turns right on West Sheridan Road before turning left onto North Broadway. After roughly a mile on Broadway, the shuttle turns left onto West Bryn Mawr Avenue, which it takes to the Bryn Mawr exit onto Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

However, there is another possible route available for this stretch of the journey. After leaving the Damen statue on the Lake Shore Campus, the shuttle could first turn left onto West Sheridan Road. Then, instead of going all the way to the Bryn Mawr exit, the shuttle could turn onto Lake Shore Drive at its first entrance at the intersection of West Hollywood Avenue and North Sheridan Road.

In our testing, we’ve found this second route — taking North Sheridan Road to West Hollywood Avenue — to be consistently and markedly faster than campus transportation’s current primary route on North Broadway.

To come to this conclusion, we spent a week driving between the campuses testing the current shuttle route against three potential alternative routes. Each route was tested at four different times of day — morning, midday, afternoon and night — for a total of 32 trips, 16 each way.

We collected data for both the time it took to travel between the Lake Shore Campus and Lake Shore Drive and for the total time to travel between the two campuses. To best replicate the shuttle over multiple tests, we used cruise control to consistently drive 45 mph on Lake Shore Drive.

All four of the fastest times — both for the individual segment between the Lake Shore Campus and Lake Shore Drive and the full length trip — utilized the North Sheridan Road route.

The fastest average time for the segment between the Lake Shore Campus and Lake Shore Drive was North Sheridan Road to West Hollywood Avenue with an average time of four minutes and 55 seconds. The fastest overall route was North Sheridan Road to West Bryn Mawr Avenue with an average total time of 18 minutes and 56 seconds.

Three out of the four slowest routes took Broadway, with the slowest average total time being 25 minutes and 35 seconds, and our longest recorded trip, 41 minutes and 46 seconds long, also taking North Broadway to Bryn Mawr during the midday time slot. The single longest trip to get between Lake Shore Drive and the Lake Shore Campus was also on the Broadway to Bryn Mawr route at a whopping 13 minutes 50 seconds to travel the roughly one and half miles.

The fastest option would be to regularly use the North Sheridan Road to West Bryn Mawr Avenue route. Unfortunately, North Broadway — the slower option — is the shuttle’s primary route and it only takes Sheridan to avoid traffic on the regular Broadway route, according to Carey.

“The shuttles will take different routes onto and off of Lake Shore Drive at different times of the day or when there is a serious traffic jam to avoid as many traffic back-ups as possible,” Carey wrote in an email to The Phoenix. “If there is significant traffic on the regular Broadway route, the driver will take Sheridan and or other exits.”

According to our data, the current North Broadway route is 18.43% slower than routes that take North Sheridan Road — an average time difference of 3 minutes and 38 seconds.

The largest average difference between individual routes occurred between routes that take either North Broadway or North Sheridan Road to the Bryn Mawr entrance to Lake Shore Drive. On average, the North Broadway to Bryn Mawr routes were 27.38% slower than routes that took North Sheridan Road to West Bryn Mawr Ave — an average time difference of 5 minutes and 12 seconds every trip.

Given this data, North Sheridan Road seems like the most efficient choice. North Broadway even has more traffic lights — to get to the Bryn Mawr exit via North Broadway you must pass 14 traffic lights compared to eight via North Sheridan Road.

Carey wrote how North Sheridan Road is an already overburdened residential street compared to the larger commercial North Broadway, which is capable of carrying even more traffic than it does now, which justifies the current shuttle route.

“We have worked with the city and aldermanic offices on which routes impact the community around Loyola’s campuses the least since this service does not serve the public,” Carey wrote. “As good community partners, we would always want to be conscious of how any changes to our shuttle routes would impact the larger community that surrounds campus.”

However, despite wanting to keep the North Broadway route as their primary route, the shuttles do occasionally use North Sheridan Road. In addition, Northwestern University’s intercampus shuttle, which passes by the Lake Shore Campus on its route, uses our proposed North Sheridan Road route for its trips, according to the Northwestern intercampus shuttle website.

The shuttle’s use of North Broadway may sound relatively insignificant at first — who cares about a few extra minutes on a shuttle that is already subject to a number of external factors like traffic or road construction? However, the shuttle serves roughly 3,200 students every day across nearly 150 trips, according to Carey. If every trip was 3 minutes and 38 seconds faster, it would have a number of positive impacts.

Busy Loyola students would reach their destinations faster. The shuttles would use less fuel — an especially important point for the university, which prioritizes sustainability initiatives. And, the university could switch with minimal effort — they wouldn’t have to change signage or shuttle stop locations or alter current schedules.

Taking North Sheridan Road is consistently faster than taking North Broadway. The benefits of switching routes vastly outweighs any potential consequences, and campus transportation should make the switch to prioritize students.

Story written by Holden Green and Hunter Minné
Feature image by Hunter Minné / The Phoenix

The Phoenix Staff

The Phoenix Staff