Students wary of SU transportation services after Centro cuts 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 all together getting on the crowded bus.
Dawson, a junior international relations student, isn’t the only Syracuse University student to have noticed delayed and overcrowded Centro buses this semester. Since the agency curtailed its campus routes last week, many south campus residents fear they will have reliable transportation between their apartments and the main campus.
Centro announced on September 13 that it not anymore provide transportation services to the League campus after 8 p.m. due to understaffing. Although the Centro’s schedule between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. remains unchanged, the university told students who take Centro buses to expect increased delays.
SU carts replaced the routes Centro buses used after 8 p.m., running about once every 15 minutes from 7:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. SU is awaiting delivery of three additional carts and will soon be hiring more drivers, said Jennifer Horvath, communications director of commercial, financial and administrative services at SU.
A cart taking students to Wegmans and Target will also ensure this Saturday after the League student association passed an invoice to buy the cart for the day and three other days during the semester.
Despite these efforts, some students fear that trolleys may not be a suitable replacement for buses.
“I’ve heard of people who have classes until 9:00 pm I can imagine if things are running late or there aren’t enough carts, not only do you go out late, but you have to. maybe sit there and wait even longer to get back to your apartment, ”Dawson said.
Rubin Parker, a major junior in cinema, is one such student. He has a photo lab on Wednesdays that doesn’t end until after 9 p.m.
Parker said the carts were more crowded, which he said poses an increased risk of the spread of COVID-19.
“The carts are just brand new. (The students) don’t quite understand them, ”said Patrick Fox, a junior international relations student, who lives on the south campus.
Fox also said the schedule change made Centro buses less reliable. He had to find other ways to get to the main campus and back in case a bus didn’t arrive on time.
“I had to leave for everything much sooner, less out of necessity, more out of suspicion,” Fox said.
I had to leave for everything much sooner, less out of necessity, more out of mistrust
Patrick Fox, League junior
Fox’s class and activity schedule has also meant he’s often on campus after 8 p.m. .
Some students have cars with them on campus but prefer not to drive between the main campus and the south campus on a daily basis.
Olivia Porter, a junior specializing in political philosophy, drives from the south campus to the 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’s reduction in services, SU announced that students with a valid permit will be allowed to use any Orange car park after 4.30 p.m. and on weekends, except during Carrier Dome events such as games.
Porter has classes that end until 6:30 p.m., and she usually enjoys having dinner with friends on campus afterwards. She also enjoys studying in the library sometimes after her later classes. In those cases, she said her most reliable form of transportation back to the South Campus was to drive herself or take a taxi service.
SU also suggested his Shuttle bus escort service as an alternative mode of night transport. Fox is concerned about the reliability of these shuttles as he called after midnight and they said they couldn’t get him for another hour.
Despite their concerns, some students feel that SU is doing her best to explain the inconvenience, which is beyond her control. Centro bus drivers who work on campus roads are employed by Centro, not the university, Horvath said.
Centro’s bus driver shortage is not unique to Syracuse, but rather a national problem due to the pandemic, said Josh Kaufman, a civil engineering graduate.
Centro currently needs to hire 35 to 40 new drivers. Driver training takes at least six weeks, said Kaufman, who worked at two major transit agencies in the upstate. 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 they want to provide the best possible service, the odds are stacked against them,” Kaufman said.
Kaufman also works closely with the League’s parking and transportation departments to design routes for students to town for volunteer opportunities through the Shaw Center. He said the office was doing its best to ensure adequate transportation options for students.
“(The parking and transportation services) are really working to make sure that the university can still operate within the limits of the Centro service cuts,” Kaufman said.
Dawson said he appreciated SU offering an alternative transportation to accommodate Centro’s reduced hours and believes increasing the number of trolleys to replace evening routes to Centro should solve the problem.
“If they (SU) keep their word, I don’t see too much of a problem,” Dawson said.
Posted on September 23, 2021 at 12:03 am
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