The spring 2020 semester is in full swing at Montclair State University and with it, shuttle services has picked up right where it left off last semester. Shuttle services is a particularly important form of transportation at Montclair State, as it is responsible for ushering students, faculty and visitors around campus.
Atop a mountain, with buildings sprawled across campus, Montclair State can be hard to navigate. Shuttles are implemented to lessen the burden of common transportation struggles. While shuttle services help with that burden, some students feel there are visible, common cracks in the service that make it difficult to trek across campus.
Kent Daniel, the director of parking and transportation services, is responsible for directing and monitoring the daily services of the university’s shuttle and parking operations. Daniel described the goals of the shuttles.
“The shuttle department’s goal is to provide safe, efficient and responsive transportation across campus,” Daniel said. “Shuttle services has a ridership of over one million passengers, which includes passengers with disabilities.”
Simran Kaur, a freshman psychology major, uses the shuttle at least once a day and considers it and the NextBus app that the service promotes to be unreliable. The app is designed to make it more convenient for students and riders to know the exact times that the shuttles will arrive to different locations campus. Some people feel that the app makes it more frustrating to catch the nearest shuttle.
“I’ve missed trains because of [the app],” Kaur said.
Along with Kaur, Sarah DiPippa, a sophomore television and digital media major, agreed that the NextBus app is doing more harm than good.
“They need to do a better job of sending accurate bus arrival times on the app,” DiPippa said.
Kaur touched on another view about shuttle services that she feels inconveniences her and others on campus: rejection from the shuttle drivers.
“Yes, I experienced [rejection] a lot. I come back [to campus] at night, so I was standing outside at the train station alone. It was about eleven at night and [the driver] said they couldn’t take me to campus,” Kaur said. “So I was standing there alone, and anything could happen here [on campus].”
Adam Plaza, a freshman child advocacy and policy major, had nearly the same experience with a shuttle driver.
“It happens a lot at transit at night. It’s genuinely frustrating because it’s freezing cold out and you get excited when you finally see someone coming,” Plaza said.
In this instance, drivers have dropped off their load of people and then kept on going, without allowing others on.
Daniel addressed this as he mentioned messages that the shuttle services have received.
“As with any large transportation operation, we receive both positive and negative feedback. The main complaint we received this year is the issues of shuttles skipping stops, especially in Hawks Crossing during the peak period of 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.,” Daniel said. “The other complaints include long wait times and buses riding closely together, which is mainly due to delays caused by traffic.”
Daniel made sure to give solutions to these issues, speaking on the problem of stops being skipped.
“To address this issue, the department will soon install a camera to monitor the stop and a special shuttle was introduced to bypass the village to reduce the wait time at this stop,” Daniel said.
In spite of the flaws that students perceived, many agree the shuttle services are extremely important to all across campus.
“It makes life easier, especially when it gets cold, so you don’t get sick walking to class,” Plaza said.
Kaur agreed that using the shuttles can help mitigate the dangers of walking to class on an icy day.
“The shuttles are important because we can’t [always] walk to class, especially in the cold weather, we could slip on ice or anything could happen,” Kaur said.
If you have an issue, complaint or comment to give shuttle services, simply call the number posted on all bus stops across campus, or on their website.