The Students’ Association focused on the topic of transportation at its second Town Hall meeting of the semester last night. Director of University Parking and Transportation Glen Sicard and Associate Vice President of University Facilities and Services Richard Pifer addressed student concerns at the meeting.
Sicard started the evening off by giving a presentation that covered improvements that the Parking and Transportation Department had made over the summer. There was an emphasis on added transportation to Riverview Apartments, an expansion of bus routes, as well as a continued effort to improve communication between parking officials and students.
A discussion began between Sicard, Pifer and Students’ Association President and senior Eric Sansky, who moderated the meeting, described the discussion as an opportunity to hear student feedback on transportation issues.
Students expressed a myriad of concerns, but there were three large themes of discontent. Students expressed a desire for more communication between administration and students regarding transportation guidelines. Riverview residents were concerned that there was not a shuttle to the River Campus during the day on the weekends. The lack of punctuality of the shuttles was also an issue.
Both Sicard and Pifer acknowledged the students’ concerns. ‘We are trying to address as many needs as we can,” Sicard said.
Sicard and Pifer were surprised that communication was still an issue. Seniors Fahria Omar and Georgia Drew, leaders of focus groups designed to act as liaisons between students and administration, were happy with their efforts.
‘We think that the feedback that we’ve gotten from students was very helpful,” Omar said. Drew added that their focus group does a lot of student education.
‘A lot of students don’t understand issues such as cost,” she said. ‘Our job is to relay why things [are] the way they are.”
In reference to the lack of shuttles running to Riverview on the weekend, students expressed worries about safety and winter weather.
‘I don’t think people would mind the walk if it were a great neighborhood and good weather,” sophomore Ezra Mechaber said.
In regard to a lack of punctuality of the shuttles, some students noted that they were not able to get help once they missed the bus.
‘We need to do a better job of communication so that someone will immediately respond to the students’ concerns,” Sicard said.
Pifer also acknowledged that the shuttle system needed to be looked at from a broader view.
‘Initially, the shuttle system was created for people double-majoring at Eastman,” Pifer said. ‘Now we need to evaluate where the institution is going long-term with the shuttle program and prioritize our resources.”
The taxi-ride home program was also discussed and Sicard revealed that the program, which involves the University subsidizing taxi-rides within a two-mile radius, has a budget of $60,000. The general consensus of many people in attendance at the meeting was that they would rather see that money go to expanding shuttle routes and destinations. Pifer did offer a short-term solution to some of the recent problems with shuttles.
‘First Transit has not met our standards,” Pifer said, referring to the third-party company in charge of staffing drivers. He said UR has pushed for new management at First Transit.
Although students’ concerns mainly focused on these three areas, a question-and-answer period brought forth many problem-solving ideas by both students and administrators.
Pifer suggested that two buses looping between the Medical Center and Towers would be convenient and provide a regular pick-up schedule for both students and staff.
Willis is a member of the class of 2011.