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On a Friday night, Cooper Dawson waited about 40 minutes at a bus stop on South Campus for a Centro bus to visit a friend on Euclid Avenue. He recalls that about 20 other students waited at the same stop before they all got on the crowded bus together.
Dawson, a junior international majoring major, isn’t the only Syracuse University student who has noticed delayed and overcrowded Centro buses this semester. Since the agency reduced its routes on campus last week, many residents of the South Campus have been concerned about reliable transportation from their homes to the main campus.
Centro announced on September 13th that it would no longer offer transport services on the SU campus after 8 p.m. due to staff shortages. Although the Centro schedule remains unchanged between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., the university announced to students who have to expect increased delays with Centro buses.
SU trolleys replaced the lines that Centro buses ran after 8 p.m. and ran approximately every 15 minutes between 7.30 p.m. and 3 a.m., SU Director of Economics, Finance and Administrative Services.
A trolley that will take the students to Wegmans and Target will also operate this Saturday after the student union of the SU passed an invoice for the purchase of the trolley for the day and three more days during the semester.
Despite these efforts, some students fear that the trolleys may not be a suitable substitute for the buses.
“I’ve heard from people who have classes until 9pm. I can imagine not only being out late, but also having to wait longer when things are running out or there aren’t enough trolleys back to your apartment, ”said Dawson.
Rubin Parker, a junior film major, is one of those students. On Wednesdays he has a photo lab that doesn’t end until after 9 p.m.
Parker said the carts are more crowded, which poses an increased risk for the spread of COVID-19, which he fears.
“The trolleys are just new. (Students) don’t quite understand them, ”said Patrick Fox, a junior international relations major who lives on South Campus.
Fox also said the change in schedule made the Centro buses less reliable. He had to find alternative ways to get to the main campus and back in case a bus didn’t arrive on time.
“I had to leave much earlier for everything, less out of necessity and more out of suspicion,” said Fox.
I had to leave much earlier for everything, less out of necessity and more out of mistrust
Patrick Fox, SU Junior
Fox’s lesson and activity schedule has also managed to keep him on campus often after 8 p.m.
Some students have cars with them on campus but prefer not to drive between the main and south campuses every day.
Olivia Porter, a junior political philosophy major, travels from the south campus to the main campus whenever she can. She said that finding a parking space was difficult to get to class on time, especially when she had to pay for a space.
In response to Centro reducing its services, SU announced that Students with a valid permit are allowed to use any Orange parking lot after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends, except for Carrier Dome events such as games.
Porter has classes that don’t end until 6:30 p.m., and she usually enjoys going out to dinner with friends on campus after that. After her later lessons, she sometimes likes to study in the library. In those cases, she said her most reliable form of transportation back to the South Campus is to drive yourself or take a rideshare service.
SU also suggested that it be commute Escort service as an alternative means of transport until late at night. Fox is concerned about the reliability of these shuttles because he called once after midnight and they said they wouldn’t be able to reach him for another hour.
Despite their concerns, some students feel that the SU is doing its best to accommodate the inconvenience that is beyond its control. Centro bus drivers who work on campus routes are hired through Centro rather than the university, Horvath said.
The bus driver shortage Centro is experiencing is a nationwide problem not just in Syracuse, due to the pandemic, said Josh Kaufman, a senior civil engineer.
Centro currently has to hire 35 to 40 new drivers. A driver’s training takes at least six weeks, said Kaufman, who has worked for two major transportation companies in the state. In the state of New York, bus drivers require a commercial driver’s license, which requires several weeks of additional training.
“Although (Centro) has made it clear that they want the best service possible, the odds are against them,” said Kaufman.
Kaufman also works closely with the SU parking and transportation services to design routes for students traveling into town via the Shaw Center to do volunteer work. He said the office is doing its best to provide adequate transportation for the students.
“(Parking and Transportation Services) are really working to ensure that the university can continue to operate within the boundaries of the Centro service reductions,” said Kaufman.
Dawson said he appreciated that SU is offering alternative transportation options to accommodate the reduced Centro hours and believes increasing the number of trolleys to replace the evening Centro routes should solve the problem.
“If you (SU) keep your word, I don’t see too much of a problem,” said Dawson.
Posted on September 23, 2021 at 12:03 pm
Contact Sarah: [email protected] | @sarahalessan