Scharff wrote me to complain that she couldn’t figure out how to get Yale Transit to take her to a meeting at Sacred Heart Church. Her understanding of the system — and mine — was that after dark, Yale buses would take students and employees to any location within the bus’s service area. The church, where Scharff works as a Dwight Hall urban fellow, is on Columbus Avenue directly across from the School of Nursing. It’s in the city’s Hill neighborhood, where the city’s only shooting death this year occurred, but it’s also practically on campus.
Once a month, Scharff goes to the church at night for a board meeting of the group she works for. She’s not paranoid; she’s just a small, young woman traveling through an isolated part of campus after dark and would seem to be the ideal user of Yale Transit. But Scharff couldn’t get the buses to take her. A perfect case for the problem solver.
When I got involved, Scharff said she’d already tried most everything to get to the board meetings.
She had called Yale Transit, and dispatchers had told her the buses would not take her there.
“I’ve actually called 2-Walk. I find that sort of embarrassing,” Scharff said.
What Scharff called her most “successful” attempt so far was walking 15 minutes to the medical area and taking a shuttle bus from there to Columbus Avenue, a distance of a few blocks.
There has to be a better solution than that.
Joan Carroll, the manager of Yale Parking and Transit, said that after 6 p.m. Yale Transit will take students anywhere they want to go within the boundaries of the service — which include the Yale campus and medical area and the Dwight, Wooster Square and East Rock neighborhoods.
But when Scharff tried to get on two buses Monday night at Phelps Gate, the drivers told her they would not take her to Columbus Avenue or even the School of Nursing (which is technically on campus). They told her to call the dispatchers, which we did. Ten minutes later, just as we were preparing to walk to Columbus Avenue, a van showed up to take Scharff to the meeting.
Carroll didn’t have a ready explanation for why the system didn’t work the way she said it would.
“As long as she got there,” Carroll said. “I don’t want her walking around down there. It’s a lousy area.”
Carroll acknowledged that dispatchers sometimes say Yale Transit doesn’t go to areas that it does and she asked anyone refused service to contact her.
Carroll did give me a stack of route maps (if you need one, I’ve got about two dozen now). Unfortunately, they follow the classic Catch-22 of bus maps: they’re completely indecipherable for anyone who doesn’t know how to use the bus system. And if you know how to use the bus system, you don’t need the map.
There are three different maps. One for daytime service, one for nighttime service, and one for medical area shuttles. On the nighttime map, the School of Nursing is actually listed as a “Minibus pick-up point.” Carroll, however, said the bus doesn’t regularly stop there. Also, for some reason the the School of Nursing is labeled LHS, for Lee High School, which was the occupant of the building before Yale bought it. I have no idea why it’s still called that.
But I do know you can get Yale Transit to take to you to Columbus Avenue. Next time I’m going to bring a hat, though.