Editorial: CWRU’s on-campus transportation must be reformed

Editorial Board

On-campus transportation at Case Western Reserve University is unreliable, as we all know. Work has been done over the years to improve it but it is still not good enough. Students rely on the shuttles and Safe Rides that circulate our campus but the systems are too lacking to be considered dependable. Therefore, to make transportation more accessible and reliable for the campus community, changes must be made.

One of the main issues of the transportation system is the new Spartan Ride app. This is a consolidation of the previous Safe Ride and TransLoc apps, theoretically making it more convenient for students to get around campus without having to juggle applications. While we agree that this was a necessary move to make, this convenience has come at a cost. The app has several bugs; notably, different routes available are often not accurately showcased on the map. Even when a route is running, such as the GreenLink, the app frequently will not display stop times or show that the GreenLink is even operating. Several instances of inaccurate stop times have also caused students to miss their rides since the launch of the new app, including instances where the GreenLink is reported to be on schedule by the app when it is actually behind on its route, causing people to be late to class. The app needs serious repair, with better syncing between the shuttles and the app itself. 

The next issue, particularly when the cold weather of Cleveland inevitably settles in, is crowding on shuttles. When it’s snowing or raining, students often take the shuttles across campus to their respective classes. However, getting on the shuttle in the middle of winter for a morning class can be a difficult feat. Room is sparse for all the students who want to board, which is understandable since it’s a small shuttle. However, the next shuttle usually ends up being a little too far away to wait for unless you want to be late for class. Additionally, when shuttles are at full capacity (and sometimes when they’re not), they will skip stops without warning, even when there are students visibly waiting.

The shuttle system being untrustworthy isn’t outright egregious, but there are students on this campus who rely on those shuttles—students who might have injuries, are disabled, are sick or are tired. Walking might be the norm from one end of campus to another, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to have a reliable shuttle option for anyone on any side of campus, especially for students with late-night classes or extracurriculars. It is not just a question of convenience but also safety. It can be dangerous to walk around campus at night, as evidenced by the number of armed robberies that occurred during the last academic year. At the beginning of President Eric Kaler’s tenure, he urged students to use shuttles more often as a means to reduce risk—but this is often not possible. The introduction of a GreenLink that runs at night—something that was pushed for by our Undergraduate Student Government (USG)—is a good step, but the issue of reliability remains the same. Far more needs to be done.

However, the shuttle system isn’t the only unreliable transportation on campus. Another major problem with our supposedly guaranteed means of transportation is the recurrence of seemingly random Safe Ride cancellations and extreme delays when requesting rides. During busy late night hours, Safe Ride drivers—or the glitching app—will sometimes cancel students’ rides, leaving students stranded and with no other means of getting somewhere safely. There are also issues with the app displaying impossibly long wait times for Safe Rides, including periods that would extend hours past 3 a.m. The university has increased the number of Safe Rides available to students over the past year in order to reduce wait times, but these problems persist with the increasing student population. Despite having the new Spartan Ride app, it seems as if the issues students had with the previous Safe Ride app will continue with the new app. Safe Rides provide transportation between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m., and students—especially women—need a reliable transit system during these times more than ever. 

Overall, we are lucky to even have a transportation system that operates both day and night, but it’s not the most dependable. Despite the implementation of a new app, more shuttles and Safe Rides, students are still facing issues. While we commend the steps CWRU administration and our USG has made, evidently there is still much to resolve if we are to have a safe and interconnected campus.