Opinion | Cuts on bus routes and less time in between classes decreases mobility on campus
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 23:09
As of fall 2013, Miami has gone from an inconveniently organized campus to a downright menace for students to navigate.
Returning students have, by now, recognized two significant changes to campus this semester: classes are now scheduled with only 10-minute breaks between, instead of 15; and the university-operated Miami Metro bus system has been replaced by the Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA).
Miami has never been accommodating for those who prefer (or need) to drive to campus. There are few parking lots anywhere near academic buildings and dormitories, and the parking pass system leaves much to be desired. Currently, the yellow pass is the best deal for students living off-campus – and even that allows parking only in the Ditmer and West Millet lots, which are located so far from the center of campus that most people, after parking, must take buses from those lots to get to campus.
Even with fifteen minutes between classes, some treks were impossible. For education majors like me, the most dreaded schedule was one featuring back-to-back classes in Boyd and McGuffey.
This year, with just ten minutes to make that trek and construction blocking the most efficient path from Western Campus to Spring Street it is now actually impossible to make it to class on time.
In attempt to acknowledge this, the BCRTA Tollgate Loop route runs almost directly from Western to McGuffey – but even if the bus runs on schedule (which it won’t), that would put you on the street outside of McGuffey one minute after your class has started. Good luck, and godspeed.
When I say that the bus won’t be running on schedule, I’m not just being cynical, these routes won’t work even under ideal traffic conditions. The Campus Core route claims to stop uptown at Bagel & Deli at 30 past the hour, and then at Laws Hall at 31 minutes past the hour. Factor in the time that it takes for students to exit and board—and another new requirement this year, show the driver a student ID upon boarding at both stops—and we end up with a continual time loss that delays the bus all day long.
Even on a mild and clear September morning, with two buses running the Tollgate Loop route together because one bus couldn’t hold enough passengers, students waiting outside the Courtyards of Miami apartment complex were nearly turned away, because both buses were full. Only after the cramped and already-standing students who were on the bus shouted to the driver that they could make room would the driver allow those waiting at the bus stop to board.
Buses are smaller than the Metro buses. Nearly all third- and fourth-year students live off campus and many of those rely on a bus to get to class. The Tollgate Loop route serves three major apartment complexes before arriving on campus – and the BCRTA buses hold 30 to 40 students each, at most. Whoever planned this should consider enrolling in a Miami Plan math course.
What’s going to happen when it rains? When the weather gets cold for the season? A significant number of students will be turned away. They will either be late to class or will not show up at all. This is an inconvenience for students, professors and bus drivers alike, and is a threat to the overall academic mission of Miami.
Miami administrators need to fix this problem. It’s not going to go away; it’s only going to get worse. Adjusting bus routes mid-year is surely no easy or simple task, but they should take the opportunity of next month’s fall break to implement changes to the system before the cold weather settles in.
Administrators should also increase the amount of time between classes before next semester begins. Running to make it to class on time will become physically dangerous once snow and ice cover the ground.
Shorter breaks between classes, a drastically less efficient bus system and widespread construction blocking paths all over campus are administrative choices that can be both improved and addressed. We must make it clear that these recent choices are not conducive to student life. We must demand an accessible campus.