As part of a continuing effort to unite the University’s central campus with Science Hill, a recent survey sought students’ ideas for changes to shuttle service around campus.
The administration currently is reviewing the survey data and possible changes to the shuttle system could include adding an “express” bus that only would include the most popular stops, Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner said. In addition, Lindner said, the administration is considering adding service to times when large numbers of students are trying to move to and from Science Hill — during the 10-minute intervals between class times, for example.
The results of the student survey, which was conducted in late January, have not yet been released but may lead to the creation of new experimental routes as early as March, Lindner said. The study also solicited feedback regarding changes made to the shuttle system last fall to increase service and decrease trip length.
Interest in shuttle reform was sparked by the Committee on Yale College Education’s academic review report released in 2003. The report recommended increased service to ease the approximately one-mile distance between buildings on central campus and on Science Hill, and to help students get to class on time, University Provost Andrew Hamilton said.
“That being said, Yale still has a relatively small campus compared to many of our peers or larger state schools,” Hamilton said.
Lindner said she has received many comments from students complaining about arriving at specific classes on time and that changes to shuttle service would try to address these needs. To improve service for these students, she said, the administration will try to look for “flashpoints” where transit stops are needed for students getting out of class.
“We’ll be looking at the summary of where those pockets are, and we’ll get a list of where classes begin and end, especially the larger ones,” Lindner said.
But Astronomy professor Sabatino Sofia said he thinks the problem for students moving between classes will not be solved simply by increased shuttle service because 10 minutes often is not enough time to move from one place to another, even if one takes the shuttle instead of walking.
“In the view that you have only a very narrow time interval between classes, you would need almost an infinite number of shuttles going,” Sofia said.
Benjamin Elkins ’08 said he tries to take the shuttle three days a week to “Freshman Organic Chemistry” in the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory but usually only catches it two of the three days because of fluctuations in the schedule and the infrequency of shuttles on his route. Still, Elkins said, the shuttle is a popular option for students traveling up Prospect Street.
“I think having more buses during the time period when people are going from class to class would be helpful,” he said. “When I do get the bus, it is almost always full.”
Elkins said that if he could not catch the shuttle in time last semester, he ended up being five minutes late to chemistry class because he only had 10 minutes to reach Science Hill from the Hall of Graduate Studies.
“There’s no way to get there on time unless I run,” Elkins said.
John Pepper, Yale’s vice president for finance and administration, said the study also tried to determine the degree to which the absence of transportation to Science Hill would discourage some humanities students from enrolling in science classes.
Chemistry professor John Tully said he was not sure that increased shuttle service would affect non-major enrollment in science classes because other issues are involved in students’ course decisions. Tully, who teaches “Chemistry, Energy and the Environment,” a lecture course designed for non-science majors, said enrollment in his course dropped dramatically when it was offered at 9 a.m. in previous years.
“All of these things are factors which by themselves don’t make up a student’s mind about whether to take the course,” he said.
Elkins, who hopes to be an Ethics, Politics and Economics major, said shuttle service would not affect his course selection. More shuttles would make life easier for people taking science classes, he said, but would not stimulate more interest in science from non-majors, which the University is trying to do.
Lindner said she thinks the weather affects students’ perception of the distance between classroom buildings, so she wants to implement any experimental changes to the shuttles before spring break.
“I think you get a different calculation when it starts getting warmer and students are more willing to walk to and from class,” she said.
Tully said he agreed that increased shuttle service would be particularly helpful to students in the winter months.
“On a cold day in the winter, students don’t want to walk up Science Hill,” he said. “So if the shuttle’s available, I suspect that many students will take it.”