New Shuttle Service Coming
The university shuttle service is taking a sharp turn.
The universitywill drop its contract with Northeast Transport, Inc., which provides service from upper campus to the John J. Passan Hall, and instead do it in-house with campus safety officers behind the wheel.
The switch will take place before fall 2014, is the result of belt-tightening, said Robert Zavada,Associate Director of Campus Safety.
Northeast Transport has held the contract since 2010.
“At one time, we even had fromNorth East Transport two contracted shuttles running certain hours, and of course, we have to look at the numbers a little bit and say, ‘Well, how can we make this a little economically feasible for the university to do this?,’” he said.
Zavada said the process of moving from an outsourced service to in-house transportation has been slow.
The university had been easing the transition with supplemental shuttle service driven by campus safety officers.
The university was able to obtain a vehicle very similar to the shuttle used by the contracted service, and ridership will not be affected.
“The only difference that anyone will see will be that we will not have that 22 passenger shuttle. We’ve kind of found out that our numbers did not necessitate us keeping that big of a vehicle on the road. Only on very, very rare occasion would we have to max that shuttle out. In fact, it never gets up to that amount of riders. It is usually only has half that amount of riders. So keeping a 20 passenger vehicle on the road, it just didn’t make any economic sense to do that anymore,” said Zavada.
Zavada said the new university transportation system enables the campus safety department to directly manage the shuttle drivers and service.
“When you’re dealing with an outside company, you’re also dealing with any of the issues that might go along with that. You’re not directly the manager of the people that operate that, so you would have to communicate through different layers of managers to speak to them, and to communicate plans, timing and how we wanted them to operate. So with the drivers not being Misericordia employees, it was a challenge at times,” he said.
The new system will also enable more complete safety patrols, Zavada said.
“I’d like to get more officers around during the day. So it’s an added benefit. In the world of business, a lot of people are cross training different duties, so they may be a student transport driver but they’re also a campus safety officer with the ability to respond in an emergency situation. They are in constant motion, and there is always somebody down at the lower campus, a campus safety officer even if they’re behind the wheel of a student transport vehicle, will be down on lower campus during most parts of the day,” he said.
Campus safety officer Myron Galaida believes the plan will run smoothly.
“Since it’s going to work out of the safety office, you’re going to have more – let’s put it this way – ‘eyes’ for the safety office roaming the campus, and it’s going to be better for the students, overall for the students,” said Galaida
The new system will be in place in fall 2014 and will include a 10-passenger student transport vehicle with wheelchair accommodations as well as a supplementary eight passenger van on the same schedule