Less-than-stellar shuttle service boils down to administration

The TCU shuttle-bus system, T.R.A.C., was designed to alleviate the disastrous parking situation by shuttling students from the distant lots they are forced to park in to their campus destinations. It is unreliable, inefficient and desperately needs to be improved. Picture this: It’s around 1:50 p.m., and the temperature is below freezing. A male student gets out of his class in a building on the east side of campus. Because the parking lots around the building were full, he was forced to park at the Sandage Lot, which is about a quarter of a mile away. But no worries, right? The TCU shuttle bus will be there for him.

He makes his way to the place where it will pick him up. Students begin to congregate. After five minutes, there are more than 20 students. They wait in the cold for more than 20 minutes for the shuttle bus to pick them up.

So what’s going on here? Why can’t our shuttle-bus system reliably provide the basic service it’s supposed to? The main reason is that the guidelines that the bus drivers follow to transport students are poorly designed.

James Kelley, an employee of Five-Star Coaches, the company hired to provide shuttle services for TCU, said bus drivers are instructed to wait five minutes at each stop and to leave when a student enters the bus.

How does that make sense? By the afternoon, most students are able to park near the buildings they have classes in. So, why wait five minutes at the outlying lots for students who aren’t going to come? And in the morning, students are not going to be leaving the campus, so why wait near the buildings?

Drivers should wait where students are most likely to be. In the morning hours, this is at the outlying lots; in the afternoon, on campus. This should be a general guideline for the bus drivers to follow.

Bus drivers also constantly cause students to be late for class. This problem could be easily solved by giving bus drivers general schedules of class times. Then they could make sure to get the students who are on the bus to class on time, even if it means leaving the students who aren’t on the bus. They could also make sure they are at the school when students are getting out of class so they can take them to their cars. All of these easy steps would tremendously help the shuttle-bus system.

So, whose fault is it that the shuttle-bus system sucks? While there are three culprits – the bus drivers, the bus company and the administration – the administration should ultimately be blamed. They have the responsibility to make sure we are receiving the best service possible and, as it is, we aren’t.

Clint Duncan is a senior finance and accounting major from Arlington.