Safety services to see changes

When Rachel Brown ’06 finished work at the School of Medicine at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, she called the Minibus service because she thought it would be a quick and safe way to get back to Morse College. Forty-five minutes later, Brown said she finally reached her college, determined never to use the service again.

“I was the third person on the bus, but I was the last person to get off, ” she said. “Next time, I’ll just walk.”

Brown said she was one of about 10 people on the bus. Many other students said they have also faced long waits when trying to use University-provided transit systems such as the Minibus and 2-WALK. In response to a rising number of student use, the University plans to revamp both services, Yale Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said. Highsmith declined to elaborate further, but said changes could be announced as soon as next week.

“I think the efforts on the part of the Administration and the Police Department to get more students to use these services is paying off,” she said. “Because of the situation with crime, more students are using these services now than before.”

Yale Director of Transportation Services Ed Bebyn said that the number of riders using the Yale night bus service has increased over 27 percent in the last year. 27,900 riders utilized the system this September, a 6,000-person increase from September 2004, he said.

“I like to call it the agony of success,” Bebyn said. “Numbers are up, and it’s putting a strain on the system. Students seem to be noticing what’s going on around them.”

Yale is not the only school facing an increased demand for university-supported transit. More University of Pennsylvania students have also been taking advantage of Penn Transit in response to an increase in crime on and near campus, UPenn Manager Ron Ward said. But, despite increases in the number of riders in the past few months, there has not been a significant increase in the amount of time riders must wait for Penn Transit buses, he said.

“At our peak, we were able to handle over half a million riders,” Ward said. “Last year, we only had 450,000 riders, so we know we could handle at least another 63,000 people.”

He said Penn students usually wait about 20 minutes for buses.

Bebyn said Yale recently added one additional bus to its transit service, bringing the total number of buses in operation from three to four, in an effort to meet the increased student demands for the Minibus service.

Still, the number of buses in operation at the Penn Transit system outnumbers the amount provided by Yale. Currently, Ward said the Penn Transit system operated 12 to 15 buses a night, each of which can accommodate 15 passengers.

Despite the possibility of longer wait times for 2-WALK and the Minibus due to increased demand, Yale Police Department Lt. Michael Patten said that Yale students should take advantage of these resources.

“Yale spends a lot of money on these services,” he said. “[Students] might as well use them.”

Patten said students may have to sacrifice convenience in an effort to be more secure. If students make the decision not to wait for the service, he said he recommends walking with a friend or taking a taxi.

Some students said they would wait for services such as the Minibus or 2-WALK in an effort to ensure their own security.

“It’s awful that you have to wait, but I don’t think that justifies complaining,” Ana Swaba ’07 said. “I’m just thankful that a service like that is available.”

Highsmith said she encourages students to provide input and suggestions to the administration.

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