Expanded shuttle routes cause tardiness

The Hurry ‘Canes shuttle system expanded its services this semester with a rearrangement of its previous routes and the addition of two new ones. The shuttle routes will now connect the Stanford, Fountain and Dickinson lines as well as provide service to and from the University Village, the School of Continuing Studies at Allen Hall and the School of Communication.

The new routes were launched following a Shuttle Optimization Project conducted last spring by graduate students from the School of Industrial Engineering in conjunction with the department of parking and transportation services.

According to Murat Erkoc, associate professor of industrial engineering and supervisor of the graduate student team, the need for the study arose from the recent changes to the Coral Gables campus map due to the opening of the University Village residences and the new School of Nursing.

For their project, Erkoc and his students built a simulation model based on data collected by student surveys and the team itself. Student riders were asked to list their preference of origin and destination when riding the shuttles in order to best determine the density of passengers waiting at the shuttle stops. The team also measured the average travel and arrival times for the shuttles.

The team came up with several different route combinations and used their model to measure the effectiveness of each. The final results of the simulation analysis were submitted to the department of parking and transportation, which made the final decision regarding how best to update the system.

Although the aim of the project was to improve the shuttle service, many students’ expectations are not being met.

Andy Simon, junior, has consecutive classes in the Communications building and the Flipse building. According to him, the bus from the School of Communication to the Ponce Garage hardly ever arrives on time and makes him arrive to his next class at least 15 minutes late.

“It’s pretty shitty,” said Simon, “the bus takes a really roundabout way [on the new route] and it always take at least 20 minutes for me to get to my next class.”

Brandon Gross, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Student Senate, is also dissatisfied with the new routes. Gross, who rides the Hurry ‘Cane shuttle from Stanford Circle to the Hecht Athletic Center for work, said that a recent commute on the Fountain shuttle caused him and other student passengers to arrive at their destinations 45 minutes later than expected.

According to Gross, the problem arose when his bus and another shuttle arrived at the University Village stop at the same time. Unable to pass each other on the narrow street, Gross’ bus had to maneuver out of the street in reverse in order to let the other bus pass before it could continue on its course.

“Something is wrong with the new route,” Gross said. “If [the drivers] can’t fit the shuttles on that narrow street then [parking and transportation] should change where the shuttles go.”

Gross has recently scheduled a meeting with Chuck William McConnell, director of parking and transportation services, to discuss possible solutions for the shuttle problem.

He also promises to draft a bill in the Senate that will voice the students’ demand for improvement in the system.

In response to the shuttle space issues at University Village, McConnell maintained that parking and transportation is working to assess the situation, but that at the moment the current stop is the best possible option.

“In the interest of providing the best service possible, it works best to have the shuttles going back and forth in that section of campus, though we are working with facilities [and planning] towards long-term solutions,” McConnell said.

In light of student concerns about the shuttles’ effectiveness, McConnell also stated that employees of the department of parking and transportation services, as well as Erkoc’s own graduate student team, will be monitoring the inter-arrival times for the shuttles stopping at University Village and the Ponce Garage in order to evaluate the system and determine what improvements, if any, need to be made.

“I think this past week has been good in that we’ve kind of learned the nuances of how the University Village residents plan their day and what their expectations of the shuttles are,” he said. “Also, by monitoring the Ponce Garage we’ve been getting an idea of how to best serve the rest of the university clientele.”

Though not all students are disappointed by the effectiveness of the Hurry ‘Cane shuttles, a majority feel that the average time they spend waiting for a shuttle differs greatly from that measured by the department of parking and transportation, which on its website lists the approximate wait time for a shuttle as five minutes for the Stanford and Fountain shuttles and eight to ten minutes for the University Village and Dickinson shuttles during class days.

“All in all I’m pretty satisfied [with the shuttle service], but I don’t think I ever wait less than 15 minutes for a bus,” Stephanie Smith, senior, said.

Students wishing to voice their concerns about the Hurry ‘Cane shuttles are encouraged to file a complaint with the department of parking and transportation services at (305) 284-3096.

Marina Nazir may be contacted at m.nazir@umiami.edu