Yale community members calling to schedule a daytime shuttle ride this month have been greeted by a special message: on Feb. 28, “door-to-door vehicle escorts will no longer be available.”
The weekday door-to-door rides will end Monday in an effort to make Yale’s transit systems more efficient and sustainable. University officials say the cut will free up valuable security resources without hurting safety measures, and that the Special Services Van, 2-WALK, the Yale shuttle lines and the Nighttime Shuttle will continue.
The change will only impact Yale transit users between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., with full door-to-door services still available at night and for people with disabilities at all times. Information about the change has been available in the automated hotline message since Feb. 7, but only half of 38 students contacted by the News Tuesday said they were aware the daytime door-to-door service exists, and several confused it with the Yale Special Services Van for people with injuries and disabilities.
While Yale never officially offered daytime door-to-door services, Director of Support Services Donald Relihan said the rides developed organically over the past two years. Yale Security began to replace walking and bicycle escorts with car rides as the University added more vehicles to its security system, and daytime rides caught on because of their convenience.
“Door-to-door rides were created as a safety feature at night but, over time, in an effort to be helpful, security was also offering door-to-door rides to those asking for them during the day,” Relihan said in an e-mail Tuesday. “As word of mouth spread, more people of course would call for this free service, instead of walking, taking the shuttle or calling a cab.”
On average, two security employees man door-to-door services during the day, Relihan said, but the system cannot accommodate the volume of requests it receives. Management and professional staff are the most frequent users of daytime rides, requesting them for transport to and from meetings.
The shuttle system provides more efficient means of transit, Relihan said. While security cars carry four to five passengers per hour, each established shuttle line can transport more than 100 riders at the same time.
“We found that a majority of our weekday daytime door-to-door rides originated and ended very short distances from our shuttle stops,” Relihan said. “It’s really a matter of educating and communicating with the community, so they know where the shuttle routes are so they can take advantage of them.”
Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner said in an e-mail Monday that the cuts will not endanger community members, since security employees will still be available to escort people to shuttle stops or other destinations during the day.
Forgoing daytime rides will allow security officers to handle other tasks, Relihan said, such as responding to alarms and lock-outs across campus.
“This is really about making the best use of resources,” Lindner said in an e-mail Monday. “It was a decision on how best to deploy staff and resources in service to the community.”
Twenty-seven of 38 students surveyed said they have used the nighttime door-to-door shuttle service. But of the 19 who were aware of the transportation option, only eight have used the service before.
“I wouldn’t have used it,” Marc Wallach ’12 said. “I don’t think I’m going far distances. It’s a pretty small campus.”
Students who did take advantage of security car rides during the day said they have used the services to escape cold weather or avoid long walks to restaurants and food markets. Many students also said they use daytime security cars for medical reasons: one student had fallen on ice, an athlete strained a muscle, and a sophomore needed to get her sick roommate to Yale Health.
But two students said they do not use daytime security cars because they thought they were only for the injured. In reality, the separate Special Services Van transports permanently and temporarily disabled Yale students and employees who submit an online form to the Resource Office on Disabilities.
Judy York, director of the Resource Office on Disabilities, said she was not aware of the end of the daytime shuttle service, but said the Special Services Van — which provides “a service to the University that is quite important” — will remain in service.
Yale College Council President Jeff Gordon ’12 said discussions are underway with Yale Transit to reduce the wait for nighttime services. YCC and Yale Transit are also developing plans to improve shuttle service to and from Union Station, he added.