By Sally Ann Moyer
While safety may be a concern for students on campus late at night, Campus Living & Learning provides a free shuttle service from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. for all on-campus residents. The shuttle is a golf cart driven by one of six safety and security education officers.
“It’s something that we’re providing as a perk to living on campus,” Timothy Powers, associate director for Campus Living & Learning, said.
The driver of the shuttle for the night directly responds to calls made to 254-265-0690.
Moody Memorial Library is the most common pick-up location, and Collins Residence Hall, Kokernot Residence Hall and Brooks Village are the most common drop-off locations, Powers said.
The shuttle can transport students from any campus location, as long as the destination is a Campus Living & Learning residence hall or apartment community.
“Between midnight and 2:30 a.m. is when we see our largest ridership, and during that time we actually have regular riders,” Powers said.
Plano freshman Grace Song, a Kokernot resident, is a regular rider who has used the shuttle service since August 2010.
“I was really nervous the first time, but I have been using it almost every time since then,” Song said.
She found out about the service from a residence hall meeting at the beginning of the academic year.
“That day I put the number on my favorites. I knew if I ever needed it, I could always call whenever,” Song said.
The service began in the fall of 2009 in response to the elimination of several parking spaces near North and South Russell halls, Powers said.
Houston sophomore Thelma Ofor, a resident of Brooks Residential College, began riding the shuttle in 2009 at the recommendation of a friend. She said she now uses it almost every night.
“One, it’s safer instead of just walking back. Two, it’s quicker. When it’s cold you don’t want to be walking back in the cold; you want to get back to your dorm as soon as possible. And people are actually friendly. So it’s kind of nice to have a conversation with them,” Ofor said.
The program has spread mainly through word of mouth, but ridership has increased dramatically since its inception.
The service has grown from 141 rides given during the 2009-2010 academic year to 2026 rides given in fall 2010 and a steady ridership of about 60 per week, Powers said.
“I didn’t think many people knew about it; some people still don’t know about it, but I’ve seen an increase from the end of freshman year to now,” Ofor said. “They’re a bit busier.”
The golf cart has room for the driver and three additional people. Rides are often full, Powers said .Ofor said she normally shares rides with friends, something that has helped spread the word about the service to others.
“A lot of people don’t know about it. They’re usually surprised —like a pleasant surprise,” Ofor said.
Song has also shared the service with her friends, although she said the shuttle service is often met with initial unease.
“Actually, everyone was kind of skeptical about it. They made fun of me for it, but then later on they followed me,” Song said.
The shuttle offers on-campus residents both safety and convenience.
“Initially, we were providing it out of a service for safety to our residents, and now it’s become a matter of convenience,” Powers said.
More males have used the service than originally expected, with ridership at about 35 percent male and 65 percent female, Powers said.
Song rides the shuttle for safety but appreciates the convenience it provides.
“Honestly, I feel so much safer and it’s kind of convenient, too, not having to walk all the way,” she said.
Powers said Campus Living & Learning is planning to purchase a second cart and market the program more in the fall.
“It’s something that’s important enough to us that we have budgeted some money to provide this service,” he said.