When the Shuttle Passes, Students Are Late for Classes

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Published November 20, 2019
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The Montclarion
Alexis Kitchmire | The Montclarion

One of the typical components of a true college experience is the campus shuttle. This circling bus system serves students, faculty and staff to provide quick and easy access to travel from point A to point B.

Montclair State University falls into the “large campus” category as it holds just over 20,000 students. Naturally, a school of this size would need some type of easy system to get people to where they need to be on time, whether it’d be class, work, a club meeting or to get to their car that is parked all the way in New Jersey Transit or Lot 60.

Unfortunately for us students here, our shuttle system is falling into that dreaded pit of problems that just never gets solved, the same pit that many students can agree includes campus food, advising, registration and many other campus services.

I noticed this recently, particularly because we are entering frigid months, and when a shuttle whizzes by you or comes late, it’s especially frustrating because we have to stand in the cold for even longer.

Many students who live in the apartment facilities, including Hawks Crossing and The Village at Little Falls, rely on shuttle services to get them to their classes on time. The walk is simply too great to make when we are in the dead of winter and are enduring sub-freezing temperatures on a daily basis.

A personal friend of mine who lives in Hawks Crossing has had countless experiences where the shuttle simply drives right past her, causing her to wait another 15-20 minutes for the next one, on top of the time she was already waiting.

Technically, the shuttles are meant to run on a schedule that makes sure they arrive at each stop at specific times.

Students work their time around getting to the shuttle stop at that specific time, so when a shuttle doesn’t show up until 15 minutes after it was scheduled, one is left wondering where they could possibly be or what they are doing.

Montclair State has provided an app for its student body with a live feed as to where each shuttle is on its route and roughly when it should get to each of its stops.

Throughout my recent experiences, the app regularly crashes and kicks me out or just flat out won’t work. This experience is one that other students on campus could account for.

I remember early in my freshman year when the app worked perfectly and there were no time discrepancies, so I do not see why it cannot be re-routed.

In total, there are seven traditional shuttles that operate on campus, and one for students with disabilities. Seven seems like a justifiable amount for our campus size, but it’s not the number of shuttles that is the problem. It’s the operation that has gone awry.

There just does not seem to be any sense of urgency toward the students. We pay thousands of dollars a year for every student service on this campus and the shuttle is one of those.

I feel as though some drivers really could not care less about the students they are helping out, as many of them mumble when you speak to them, with some not even saying you’re welcome after we say thank you.

Not only do the on-campus shuttles lack structure, but we even have buses that are supposed to take students off-campus to shop for necessities and goods.

The Shopper’s Shuttle is meant to help students who may not have cars on campus.

During my freshman year, I took the Shopper’s Shuttle a handful of times to Target to get food and cleaning supplies for myself. That handful would have been a greater amount if they did not constantly cancel the route or close up shop early.

The shuttle system is very important to the students of this university and truthfully, it is critical for students living in the farther reaches of campus. Realistically, the campus shuttle structure is a problem that can be fixed because it once did run smoothly, and students can only hope that changes will be made in the near future to better this system.

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