New shuttles cause congestion in first semester of service

By Sam LaBianca
Contributing Writer

After a semester of service to KU, the new shuttles have reportedly been a cause of congestion on campus.

KU announced the shuttle provider change in December 2018, moving from Kutztown-based Bieber Tourways to Allentown-based Mainstreet Leasing. Shortly into the spring semester, Bieber folded.

With the change came new buses—a trio of smaller Ford shuttles—replacing the pair of transit buses Bieber used.

“The buses do accommodate fewer patrons but are much more reliable than the previous buses. Also, due to their size, they cause less wear on roadways and parking lots and can better navigate campus roadways,” said Anne Reel, associate director of Public Safety and Police Services at KU.

Bieber “used two 40-foot transit style buses that could accommodate about 42 ambulatory passengers. The current style of bus allows for 24 seated patrons, 1-2 patrons with mobility devices and another 13 standing patrons,” said Reel.

There are two shuttles that run the on-campus loop during the day, and there is one off-campus shuttle.

“We currently have three Kutztown shuttles onsite during the route times. In addition, we have back up coaches at our base in case any changes need to take place,” said Sasha Rodriguez, KU account manager for Mainstreet Leasing.

There are eight shuttle stops around the KU campus. There are two stops that are consistently crowded and can cause a disturbance in student’s schedules. These congestions can prevent students from getting to class on time because they could have to wait for the next shuttle or choose to walk, like sophomore Chase Stephensen. He said it is an annoyance to wait for the shuttle, risking being late for class.

The two most crowded stops are at University Place and the McFarland Student Union, especially around 15 to 20 minutes from when a class period starts.

Sophomore Paul Miller uses the shuttle every day at University Place, and he said the handles are placed too high for most people so it is difficult when people have to stand.

The new shuttles are more mechanically reliable than the old ones, but the amount of space they have is an issue. Adding another on-campus shuttle could help fix the congestion because buses would be more frequent.

“The new shuttles are most definitely cleaner but in relation to the size and capacity, it’s awful. The seats are too close together and are not big enough for some, and the shuttle is always overcrowded,” said sophomore Julie Thompson.