Students and drivers react to shuttle bus hours changes

Analicia Haynes, Administration Editor

With the recent reduction of shuttle bus hours, students are learning to cope with the effects of not having a state budget, which includes sacrificing their late night emergency trips to Wal-Mart.

Lynnette Drake, the interim vice president of student affairs, first introduced the revisions to the shuttle bus hours at a March 2 student senate meeting.

Drake said the two positions for bus drivers that became vacant last semester could not be filled because of the recent layoffs and hiring freeze resulting from the lack of state funding.

Since they were unable to fill the positions and the state is still without a budget, the shuttle bus hours were cut.

The new schedule was based on the times during the day when students typically used the bus more, Drake said at the meeting.

Prior to spring break, the bus ran Monday through Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to midnight, Thursday through Friday from 7:30 to 1:30 a.m., Saturday 2 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. to midnight.

But as of March 21 the bus runs Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m.

Currently, there are only two full-time drivers and one part-time driver as well as five substitutes that fill in when needed.

Kenneth Keigley, the part-time bus driver, said Tuesday that the situation is unfortunate but considering the circumstances, the university is doing a great job.

Keigley is the only driver after 3 p.m. and said he took more hours and extended his shifts from Monday through Friday to Tuesday through Saturday so things would work out.

“Sometimes I’m sorry that it is shortened because I don’t think that we’re delivering the service that we should,” Keigley said. “But I understand that there is a financial need there and everybody has to cut back until the state passes the budget.”

Keigley said Lt. John Hatfill, the interim chief of police, and Jennifer Sipes, the special assistant to the vice president for student affairs, met with all of the drivers and discussed the schedule change.

Though the change may seem drastic, Drake said the original plan was to stop the bus at 7 p.m.

However, Drake said at the student senate meeting that because Keigley was able to put in extra hours they were able to extend the time to 9 p.m.

“The new hours should get us through the semester,” Drake said in an email. “We hope that funding is restored and we can go back to the previous schedule again in the future.”

Iridian Guardado, a sophomore sociology major, said she did not know about the shuttle bus change until Tuesday night.

“I feel like they should put up a sign that they switched the times because I didn’t know that until now,” Guardado said.

Guardado said she has to plan around the bus schedule, making sure she includes a time to go shopping when she needs to.

“Now this means I have to carry more groceries at one time because I don’t have a car,” Guardado said.

Emily Stockdale, a sophomore family and consumer sciences major, said she learned about the time change after waiting for the bus to pick her up at 9:30 p.m. in front of Andrews Hall.

“I usually don’t have time to go shopping until later in the day because I’m so busy during the day,” Stockdale said.

Stockdale said the hour change works her time management skills, which include putting things off like doing homework later in order to go to the store before the bus stops its rounds.

“It’s not horrible but it’s pretty inconvenient,” Stockdale said.

Although Stockdale said it is frustrating because she has to adjust her schedule, she said changing the shuttle bus hours is not the worst part about the budget situation.

“Illinois is the worst state to live in,” Stockdale said.

Neha Tamhane, a graduate clinical psychology student, said she was not surprised by the sudden change after spring break because the bus drivers made announcements beforehand.

Tamhane said the shuttle was the only means of transportation for most of the people who use it and the reduction of hours does take a lot of freedom.

Before the reduction in hours, Tamhane said she used to have the freedom to go to Walmart later on in the evening and get everything else she needed done during the day.

“There’s a lot of changing (to my schedule) that I have to do because now I have to go immediately after class just to get back in time (for pickup),” Tamhane said.

Tamhane also pointed out the convenience the shuttle’s late night runs offered students who went out to parties.

“It was just a safe way to get back and now that safety is gone,” Tamhane said.

Despite the frustration students feel, they also said they feel just as bad for the drivers that cart them around.

“I feel like it affects the drivers also because they are getting less hours and not making as much money,” Stockdale said.

Tamhane said the situation sucks not just for students but for the drivers as well.

“The drivers are really nice and they go above and beyond for the students and I feel for them as well,” Tamhane said.

Keigley said although the bus ends at nine, he still tells students at 8:20 p.m. that he will be picking them up from Wal-Mart at 9 p.m. and drop them off at their stops.

“There’s almost always somebody there (at Wal-Mart) waiting to go home so I make a quick pass through the campus and drop them off,” Keigley said. “I don’t want to leave them there.”


Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]