Bus times, class schedules not mixing well

Senior Jelena Tolimir remembers the day she was stranded in Minneapolis.

<p>A third shuttle bus has been added to the rotation but it's the poor timing of classes and bus times that has been hard on professors and students. (Rebekah Frank/TommieMedia)</p>
A third shuttle bus has been added to the rotation but it's the poor timing of classes and bus times that has been hard on professors and students. (Rebekah Frank/TommieMedia)

She had been sitting at the bus stop for an hour. As the sky turned darker, she realized the St. Thomas shuttle wasn’t coming to bring her back to St. Paul.

“I didn’t realize the shuttle ran only until 7 p.m. on Saturday nights,” Tolimir said.

Some students just like Tolimir believe the shuttle times should run later on the weekends and at different times during the weekday.

Senior Hailey Helm said she has trouble making it to her Minneapolis class on time.

“The bus times suck,” she said.

She said she misses the bus because her class in St. Paul does not get out until 1:20 p.m., which is when the bus leaves from St. Paul.

“It doesn’t make sense that the bus leaves at the same time as classes are just ending,” Helm said.

But Director of Public Safety Dan Meuwissen said the shuttle schedule was originally designed to accommodate class times and the driving time between St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Currently, the two main shuttles leave Minneapolis and St. Paul about every 20 minutes.

“The designed times correlated around [class] schedules as much as you could,” Meuwissen said. “I recognize now classes have all changed, different times, but it’s still pretty constant and still allows our users to plan accordingly.”

Third shuttle added, but class times still conflict

Junior Kamal Mohamed said the shuttle is great.

“It comes right on the dot for the most part,” he said. “They have even added another shuttle that comes about every 10 minutes.”

The third shuttle was added this year because more undergraduate business classes are being taught at the Minneapolis campus. But Helm said the third shuttle does not help her make it to class on time.

“It’s not true another shuttle comes every 10 minutes,” she said.

Meuwissen said the third shuttle does not always arrive every 10 minutes because of the rotation with the two main shuttles.

The third shuttle will most likely be used next semester as well, Meuwissen said. But he won’t know until the end of this year if the university will continue to fund the third shuttle for the next school year.

Business professor Janine Sanders, who teaches in Minneapolis, said the third shuttle does not help because it is not consistent with schedules and does not come every 10 minutes.

“For my 9:55 a.m. class, increasingly more students are late,” Sanders said. “But it’s usually not [the students’] fault.”

She said students are late because the traffic was slow or they had to wait to get on another shuttle because the first shuttle was too full.

“I get a number of e-mails from students asking if they can come to class 20 minutes late or leave early to make it to class in St. Paul,” Sanders said. “The answer is ‘no.’”

Sanders said the 9:55 a.m. class time should be changed.

“It’s hard to change the shuttle times because everyone is used to those times,” she said.

Meuwissen said the shuttle schedule will not change for next semester.

Weekend shuttle times

Some students also wish the shuttle ran longer on the weekends.

Sophomore Selena Efthimiou said she would like the shuttle to run later on Saturday nights.

“A lot of people do their shopping at Target later on the weekends,” Efthimiou said. “It’s hard when it doesn’t run very late.”

But Meuwissen said it would not be cost effective for the shuttle to run later on the weekends.

About 700 to 1,200 students ride on the shuttle each day, according to Meuwissen. He said the number of students who use the shuttles during the weekend drops considerably.

Senior Peter Swanson said the shuttle should be used for academic purposes only.

“There is no reason for [the shuttle] to run on weekends,” he said. “There are metro transportation passes available at the bookstore if students need to go to Minneapolis.”

Rebekah Frank can be reached at rfrank@stthomas.edu