Minibus riders report delays

Carolyn Brown ’13 called the minibus after squash practice this October, thinking that it would be the fastest way to meet her suitemates for a birthday dinner. But when she called, she discovered it might be a belated birthday.

“Even though the restaurant was really far away, I had to run,” Brown said. “It was going to take the minibus half an hour, and it was actually going to save me time to just run there.”

Although most students feel safer riding the minibus, many are frustrated by the buses' delays.
Yale University
Although most students feel safer riding the minibus, many are frustrated by the buses' delays.

In general, students can expect a longer wait for the minibus, a service that provides on-call transportation to any destination on or near campus, during the month of February because, with all the snow and cold weather, demand usually peaks around Valentine’s Day, according to Ed Bebyn, Yale’s manager of parking and transit. Beyond keeping students warm, administrators also hope the service will keep them safe: In response to the increased concern for campus security after the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13 this fall, Yale College Dean Mary Miller recommended students take advantage the service. While students interviewed said the minibus makes them feel safer, many expressed frustration with the inconsistent response time. Two administrators said many factors contribute to this problem, such as pockets of high demand and bad weather.

“We are always looking at ways to improve the system,” said Don Relihan, the director of support services, who oversees transit. “That is why we communicate regularly with the [Yale College Council], [Graduate Students Assembly] and [Graduate and Professional Student Senate] to make sure we are doing our best to meet all of their needs.”

There are many factors that contribute to delays in response time, Bebyn said. Demand for the minibus usually spikes Thursdays through Saturdays and during bad weather, he said. During last week’s snow storm, over 1,500 calls were made in one night, he added.

This imbalance of supply and demand causes the most delays, but other factors include bad road conditions and major social events such as Safety Dance.

And as all University departments are forced to trim their budgets, Bebyn said there are no plans to increase the number of cars or drivers operating at any one time to address this complaint.

But beyond sometimes slow response times, students also complained about the shuttle’s occasionally illogical routes.

The majority of the people who use the service are graduate students, Bebyn said, who tend to live away from the centers of undergraduate campus life. As a result, the buses frequent the graduate student-heavy neighborhoods such as East Rock and Wooster Square more often, lengthening the wait time for undergraduates.

Hope Weissler ’12 said the minibus often takes indirect routes to her destination.

“We end up getting on the bus and being shuttled up to graduate student housing by Hamden before we get dropped off somewhere five blocks from where we started,” she said.

Elena Poiata GRD ’12, a Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology graduate student who lives by the Medical School campus, also complained that the bus took roundabout paths to her destination, adding travel time and discomfort.

Despite expressing impatience with the Minibus system, all 12 students interviewed agreed on its effectiveness as a safety measure.

Connie Cho ’13, for instance, said she liked the sense of security that the minibus provides her, especially as a freshman not entirely familiar with the campus.

Jim Rutushni, a Yale security employee who does door-to-door service, said he takes pride in this role.

“I kind of treat everyone like they’re either my daughter or my wife to make sure they get from point A to point B comfortably,” he said. “It’s a good job; it’s a good bunch of people. And everybody cares about the students and making sure they’re safe.”

Officially, the University no longer uses the term “Minibus” to refer to its door-to-door transportation services, but rather refers to all its services, which includes fixed daytime routes, under the umbrella “Yale University Shuttle System.”


  • alum79

    How sad, rides to dinner, hair and nail salons and to pick up your pizza in Wooster Square. I never knew how tough today’s undergrads at Yale had it. Just think, the majority of the great unwashed masses at lesser schools have to walk where they want to go. Even other Ivy schools still make the blue bloods find thier own way to the bar. Imagine the howl that will arise when Yale finally decides to save money by cutting out the security cars for little Thurston Howell. All Yale needs is a regular bus service, spend the rest of the money on actual security. What other university provides personal taxi service?

  • chill

    i don’t know any university that doesn’t have these shuttle services.

  • Yalie

    We all know that New Haven is not the safest city for college students, to put it gently. Would you want your daughter or son to be walking alone in the streets after dark?

    “All Yale needs is a regular bus service, spend the rest of the money on actual security.” — If making sure students gets safely from one place to another isn’t security then what is?

    Also, if it were a personal taxi service, why isn’t it offered during the daytime as well? Gee whiz.

  • grad12

    @ alum79 –

    Many grad students live in the East Rock area of New Haven – I live a mile north of Science Hill, near the divinity school. I use the daytime shuttle service to get back and forth to my lab at the medical school during the daytime, however, grad life often demands long hours that have me staying late or returning late to continue experiments. Simply put, there is not enough affordable housing in adequately safe areas of downtown New Haven to house the entire Yale undergraduate, graduate, and postdoc populations, nor are there enough parking spaces to have us commute in via car from further away. I can either walk three miles each way (six miles roundtrip) into the lab at 11pm-2am, or I can call a shuttle for door-to-door service. Had that service not been an option, I would not have attended Yale – I would have chosen another school where safety is a priority.

  • Je ’12

    along with the door to door service, yale also provides buses that drive a route…

  • Post-It Note

    One problem is that undergrads typically use the shuttle system inefficiently. I’ve invited undergrad friends of mine to dinner, and — even though I live one block off the Blue Line, which runs every 15 minutes — they’ll call the door-to-door service, which can take an hour once they’ve waited around. Most of these friends don’t really understand the complexities of the shuttle system. I was intimidated with it myself when I lived at HGS, but once I moved off campus, it was a necessity that I learn how to use it. There is a bit of a learning curve, and some of the regular route drivers aren’t the most proactively helpful people.

  • grd08

    It should be university building to university building. No bars, no dentist offices, pizza on Wooster Street or hair and nail salons for the door to door. Use a cab and pay for it. The shuttle and door to door should be for university business only. Entertainment runs only hold up the process for everyone else on campus, how about paying for your own fun kids?

  • FailBoat

    My friends at other universities walk 30 minutes to get to class. Yalies take the bus up science hill.

  • y

    crimson kids, go away

  • je10

    Who actually runs this service? They call it Yale Transit, Yale Transit and Parking managers supposedly run it, but you get picked up by a security car, call security who tells you to call transit, transit can’t do anything without permission from security…’s ridiculous. How about putting it under one department so we know who to talk to? If it’s transit make everything transit so you don’t play phone tag or try to get into a security car that isn’t doing transit. How hard is it really? If the transit managers are too incompetent to run a simple shuttle service, maybe they need new management and a structural revamp also.

  • je11

    This is a pretty useless system. Several times the minibus has actually threatened my safety.

    On multiple occasions (the last one happened two weeks ago on a Friday night), the minibus gives me the “we’re almost here” call. I rush out to stand on that dark street corner. I wait for 30 minutes and still no bus. I could have been mugged in that time, and I most certainly could have walked to my destination faster.

    Yale Transit, I’m sick of your lies.

  • anon

    The minibus that is supposed to pick up kids on crutches and that can’t get around on their own is terrible too. I’ve been left on the top of science hill for over an hour in the rain, with two drivers “forgetting to get me”. Sometimes they come to the wrong corner and don’t even stop when they don’t see you…overall its a good idea and most of the drivers are fine, but the system is inefficient