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New UCF shuttles bring concern to students

Off-campus commuters voice difficulties getting to class

Contributing Writer

Published: Saturday, January 11, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 09:01

New Shuttle

Bernard Wilchusky/Central Florida Future

UCF shuttles run from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every weekday.

Old off-campus shuttles departed with the new year, and students noticed different shuttles pull up in their place.

Forty new buses commenced services at the start of the 2014 spring semester. There were no additional routes or changes in services from the last shuttle company, and the only thing that changed was the buses.

All the buses are now white with either Pegasus or UCF written in bold on the side.

Many students, including junior biomedical sciences major Destiny Privott, are left with concerns about getting to class on time or being able to get on a bus once their class ends to go back to their apartment complex.

“I don’t like the buses; they’re too small, and now I have to stand because they just don’t come around that often,” Privott said. “The cloth seats look good, but once it rains they’re going to get dirty.”

The new buses each seat 29 students, with additional handrails for students to stand in the aisle.The new shuttles are also two tiered, with the seats in the back being a step higher than in the front.

“I don’t understand the purpose of the second level,” Rebecca Calderon, a senior criminal justice major, said. “It looks good, but I’m tall and my head is pretty much hitting the top. You also have to have really good balance; there are sharp turns, and if you’re near the step it seems like you’re going to fall.”

After the contract with Horizon Coach Lines, the previous shuttle bus company, ended in December 2013, Veolia Transportation took over the contract with UCF at the beginning of the spring semester.

“The previous contract for the shuttles ended in December,” Gene Kruckemyer, a UCF spokesman, said. “In advance of that, UCF’s Parking and Transportation Services and the Student Government Association in 2012 accepted bids and selected Veolia Transportation Services for a 6 1/2 year contract that began this month.”

Although these new shuttles are smaller, Kruckemyer said it should not affect the wait time for students at each bus stop.

“The number of shuttles that serve a route is determined by the demand, of course, so if the demand changes, the university would make adjustments,” Kruckemyer said.

However, after not being able to get onto the bus at her apartment complex, Calderon had to wait about 15 minutes for the next one to arrive, which meant she was going to be late for her class.

“I don’t know why they would downsize; they already had trouble fitting everyone in the bigger buses,” Calderon said. “If they’re going to have smaller buses, they should have two come back-to-back. We couldn’t get on the last one, so now I’m going to be late for class.”

But when choosing the shuttle company that won the contract with UCF, speed wasn't necessarily a factor.

Veolia Transportation was selected after the university received bids from other bus companies, and the university is expected to pay less for the new buses in the long run.

“The company’s lease rate was competitive, and the university is expected to save some money on fuel by now purchasing it separately instead of through the transportation company,” Kruckemyer said.

Even if the new shuttle contract did not commence at the start of the spring term, students would have seen a few changes to some of the old buses.

The wraps on the old buses that celebrated UCF’s 50th anniversary would have been removed after being on the buses for 1 1/2 years due to the conclusion of the anniversary in December.

According to UCF’s Parking and Transportation Services Annual Report for 2013, approximately 78 percent of residents who own vehicles utilize the shuttle each class day.

The purpose of the shuttles is to decrease the demand for parking on campus each day.

“UCF’s student shuttles help reduce the demand for parking facilities, gasoline consumption and traffic congestion,” Kruckemyer said. “The 40 shuttles operate [from] 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and carry 1.9 million riders a year.”

 

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