6 Oct 2011

University Shuttles Having Trouble Keeping up with Increasing Demand for Public Transportation

Author: Rachael Murphy | Filed under: Instructor, Student Contributor

by Rachael Murphy

This year, Bowling Green State University has discontinued BG2-RIDE, a free van service that students could call to pick them up and drop them off within the city limits of Bowling Green for free.

Education major Bao Luong was depending on the free van service to take her to her required field experience at the local Wood Lane School. According to Luong, many education students depended on the free van pick-up and drop-off service to get to their field experiences last year, but BG2-RIDE is no longer an option.

It is dangerous to walk to the Wood Lane Schools because the easiest way to get there is to walk on a highway overpass where there is not a sidewalk, said Luong.

BGSU students who use public transportation currently have limited options. They can wait on a shuttle that complicates their schedule, or they can use the city’s public transportation service, BG Transit, which charges a $3.50 fare per ride.

The university shuttles have four different routes. The main route is on a 22-minute cycle around campus. The south route has 15-minute cycle and includes stops to many off-campus apartment complexes. The north route goes past Main Street further into town, has a 30-minute cycle and includes stops at Kroger and the Wood County Hospital. The downtown route runs only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and has a 20-minute cycle.

The university shuttles do not offer routes that go to off-campus locations before 7 p.m. on weekends.

Luong takes the north route to the Bowling Green Middle School, where she does another field experience.

“Today, I waited for the north route for 40 minutes,” said Luong. “Another girl who was there was waiting for even longer. She gave up and started to walk.”

Katie Witherell, a senior art student living in the Campbell Hill apartments, said she doesn’t rely on the shuttle bus. Its “inconvenient” and “takes too long.” She said she would be interested in using BG Transit if it were free or less expensive.

BG Transit is the city of Bowling Green’s public transportation service. If students need to get somewhere, they can call the service an hour in advance of when they need picked up, and BG Transit will pick them up at the nearest curb for a fare of $3.50 per ride.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, public transportation is in higher demand than it has been in five decades. The recent economic recession has caused more people to use public transportation, but it has also caused a decrease in state funding and an increase in fuel prices.

According to Vic Gable, a member of the Transportation Advisory Committee for BG Transit, this trend is not affecting the market for public transportation in Bowling Green because students largely use the free university shuttle service. Gable said that BG Transit largely serves the residential population, but 15 to 20 per cent of its ridership is students.

Gable also says that many public transportation services have been forced to raise their rates because of the recession. Nearly 80 per cent of public transit services have cut services or raised their fares, according to a 2011 APTA survey. In the last five years, BG Transit has been able to upgrade its vehicles from cars to handicap-accessible vans, and BG Transit has had to raise its rates twice in the last eight years.

Gable says that BG Transit would like to offer university students a discount, but it’s not currently a financially feasible option.

“We’d love to increase ridership in the student population; we market to incoming freshmen,” said Gable.

Students may not like the $3.50 fee ($7 for a round trip) but BG Transit does offer something the university shuttles do not – it runs on Saturday. The hours of BG Transit are Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday,
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For students who need to run errands off campus and don’t want to budget their time to wait for the shuttle, BG Transit is an option – just have your fare ready.

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