Smith: Improve campus’s shuttle services

Kevin Smith, Opinion Editor

Green Link, Blue Link, Blue and Green Lines, Red Line, White Line; if you’re still learning about all of the public transportation available here at Case Western Reserve University, then look no further than the primary colors. Our campus has plenty of public transportation that stops and travels throughout University Circle, Cleveland Heights and other surrounding areas.

More pertinent to intra-University Circle travel are the smaller shuttles.These include the Evening North and South Shuttles, Commuter Shuttle, Green Link, Blue Link, Heights AM, and UCRC Shuttles. Patrons can also use NextBus, a website and app where you can track the movements of each available shuttle throughout University Circle. The website, along with the app, make it easier to travel throughout the neighborhood in very little time.

     In a shockingly lighter winter, which seems to have no intention of giving us the unloved, cold temperatures that plague February, I haven’t used these shuttles as much. It is not necessarily because it hasn’t been cold enough to warrant so, but because I have trouble depending on them for transportation across campus.

At some stops there is a display board for the expected arrival time, but at most stops there is no indication of when the next shuttle is coming. We just assume it will arrive because it follows a pattern of every 15 or so minutes, though there have been times where the shuttle has been late or not arrived at all. There have been times when the display board will say “arriving.” Even when it doesn’t.

NextBus, as an app, can be wonky at times as well. I had a similar experience this past week whilst contemplating a walk across campus. I opened the NextBus website, the app failed to work, in order to see if one of the several shuttles could save me from potential tardiness.

Sure enough, NextBus revealed to me that the bus was only a five minutes away. I sat at the stop to await its arrival. Five minutes later, the website’s timer showed the shuttle was four minutes away. The bus marker on the map stopped in the middle of an intersection. The shuttle then made an out of order stop and then headed back to us. The app then prompted me that the shuttle would then take 14 minutes to reach me. Giving up, I began my walk to class, checking one more time. This time, the website once again displayed that the shuttle was a few minutes away.

After standing, refreshing the page for a few short minutes, the Commuter Shuttle swung around E. 117th Street, hitting the sharp left turn that makes observers wary of a possible capsize.

To be clear, delays are not the fault of any of the drivers. If an event is important, leave with enough time that a few minutes cannot sway your status of tardy or timely.

While the shuttles are useful, they must be dependable. There are instances such as these where the shuttles seem to randomly stop or violate the time pattern. It is difficult to count on them as a consistent form of transportation in a timely manner when you cannot always count on them being on time or in the right place.

They do serve as a convenience to all who live or work in University Circle, providing a quick way of traveling to locations off of the main road. Without their services, transients and residents alike would struggle to traverse the neighborhood with such ease.

As important the service they provide is, the manner in which they serve the students could be improved by providing a consistently accurate location of each en-route shuttle. Though we are not the only ones who take the shuttles, services that cater mainly to students and aim to improve our general welfare should involve our input.

Kevin is a third-year student who wants to make a difference in the city. He is the Opinion Editor for the Observer.