Students wary of SU transportation services after Centro cut schedule

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One Friday night, Cooper Dawson waited about 40 minutes at a South Campus bus stop for a Centro bus so he could visit a friend on Euclid Avenue. He remembers about 20 other students waiting at the same stop before boarding the crowded bus together.

Dawson, a young international relations major, isn’t the only Syracuse University student to notice delayed and overcrowded Centro buses this semester. Since the agency reduced its on-campus routes last week, many South Campus residents have been concerned about having reliable transportation from their apartments to main campus.

Centro announced on September 13 that it not anymore providing transportation services to the League campus after 8 p.m. due to staff shortages. Although Centro’s schedule between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. remains unchanged, the university has told students who take Centro buses expect increased delays.

SU trolleys replaced the routes Centro buses used after 8 p.m., running approximately once every 15 minutes from 7:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. SU is awaiting delivery of three additional carts and will be hiring more drivers soon, said Jennifer Horvath, communications. director of commercial, financial and administrative services of SU.

A trolley taking students to Wegmans and Target will also provide this Saturday after the SU student union passed a bill to buy the cart for the day and three more days during the semester.

Despite these efforts, some students are concerned that trolleys are not a suitable replacement for buses.

“I’ve heard of people having classes until 9 p.m. -be sitting still and waiting even longer to get back to your apartment,” Dawson said.

Rubin Parker, a junior film student, is one such student. He has a photo lab on Wednesdays that doesn’t end until after 9 p.m.

Parker said the carts are more crowded, which he says poses an increased risk of spreading COVID-19.

“The carts are just brand new. (Students) don’t fully understand them,” said Patrick Fox, a young international relations student, who lives on South Campus.

Fox also said the schedule change made Centro buses less reliable. He had to find other ways to get to and from main campus in case a bus didn’t arrive in time.

“I had to go for everything much earlier, less out of necessity, more out of mistrust,” Fox said.

I had to leave for everything much earlier, less out of necessity, more out of distrust

Patrick Fox, Junior SU

Fox’s schedule of classes and activities also meant that he was often on campus after 8 p.m. Although he has a friend with a car, Fox doesn’t like asking for rides unless it’s an emergency, especially since his friend likes to go to bed early. .

Some students have cars with them on campus but prefer not to drive between Main Campus and South Campus every day.

Olivia Porter, a junior political philosophy student, drives from South Campus to Main Campus whenever she can. She said finding parking makes it difficult to get to class on time, especially if she has to pay for a spot.

In response to Centro reducing its services, SU announced that students with a valid permit will be permitted to use any Orange parking lot after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends, except during Carrier Dome events such as games.

Porter has classes that end as late as 6:30 p.m., and she usually enjoys having dinner with friends on campus afterward. She also likes to study in the library sometimes after her later classes. In those cases, she said her most reliable means of transportation back to South Campus was to drive herself or take a ride-sharing service.

SU also suggested his Shuttle bus escort service as an alternative mode of nighttime transportation. Fox is worried about the reliability of these shuttles because he called once for midnight and they said they couldn’t have him for another hour.

Despite their concerns, some students feel that SU does its best to accommodate inconvenience, which is beyond its control. Centro bus drivers who work on campus routes are employed by Centro, not the university, Horvath said.

The shortage of bus drivers Centro is experiencing is not unique to Syracuse but rather a national issue due to the pandemic, said Josh Kaufman, a civil engineer.

Centro currently needs to hire 35 to 40 new drivers. Training a driver takes at least six weeks, said Kaufman, who has worked at two major transit agencies. In New York State, bus drivers require a commercial driver’s license, which requires several weeks of additional training.

“Although (Centro) has made it clear that he wants to provide the best service possible, the odds are stacked against him,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman also works closely with SU Parking and Transportation Services to design routes for students traveling to the city for volunteer opportunities through the Shaw Center. He said the office is doing its best to ensure adequate transportation options for students.

“(Parking and Transportation Services) are really trying to make sure the university can still operate within Centro’s service cuts,” Kaufman said.

Dawson said he appreciates SU providing alternative transportation to accommodate Centro’s reduced hours and believes increasing the number of trolleys to replace Centro’s evening routes should solve the problem.

“If they (SU) keep their word, I don’t see too much of a problem,” Dawson said.

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