In response to increasing ridership and security concerns, the University expanded its door-to-door evening minibus services Monday.
The new services include lower wait times, a combined escort and busing service, and a “Blue Line” that will transport students between the residential colleges and off-campus neighborhoods around Edgewood Avenue and Lynwood Place. Students said they are pleased because the changes could resolve weaknesses in what they described as unreliable system, which has become increasing popular this year as crime has risen.
Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner said the additional services were created in response to a 22 percent increase in patrons this year.
“We had a tremendous increase in volume in nighttime ridership,” Lindner said. “We want to make sure we’re really concentrating service where it’s needed in a safe, reliable way.”
Director of Support Services Don Relihan said the most important change is the creation of a Blue Line route, which will run each night between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. While the University has offered door-to-door service on request in the past, this will be the first time students have access to the bus on a regular circuit. The route’s design takes into account the distribution of areas populated by students as well as areas that are isolated or have high crime rates, Lindner said.
The Blue Line’s specific path will allow students to anticipate its position instead of calling and waiting for a ride, said Larry Wise ’08, chair of the Yale College Council Security Committee.
“The advantage of a defined route is the operators and the students know where the bus is and know where they can go quickly,” Wise said. “It’s a work in progress, but we think it’s extremely viable.”
Wise, who has helped draft the details of the plan since its inception three weeks ago, said the security committee would like to see the installation of Global Positioning System transmitters that would allow students to track bus positions online by the end of the school year.
The new services also double the number of buses operating from Sterling Memorial Library, a move that will reduce wait times from 30 minutes to 15. Yale officials said they think the new buses will improve safety by allowing students to avoid waiting outside for long periods or walking home.
“We don’t want people to have to wait for 20 minutes,” Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said. “We don’t want them to have to stand outside in locations that don’t feel safe to them.”
Students said they will welcome any changes that will improve a currently unreliable minibus system.
Jesse Harris ’08 said she has been frustrated by her experiences calling the minibus in the past.
“We called four or five times and were put on hold every time and had to call back,” Harris said. “Or they told us two minutes, and half an hour later they came.”
The University is also working to streamline its security services. As of Monday, students will be able to access both minibus and escort services through a single dispatcher rather than having to call two separate services, Wise said.
Jessica Bridgett ’08 said a more efficient dispatching system would encourage more people to ride home.
“I’ve had to be put through millions of different people when I’m ordering [the service],” she said. “More people are going to use the service if it’s more reliable.”
Yale will also begin offering regular service to and from Union Station and two Special Services vans to accommodate the disabled.
Officials said the increase in nighttime riders — up to 27,315 in October — is most likely because of this fall’s wave of muggings, as well as improved publicity for the minibus services.