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After becoming “overwhelmed” with the number of rides requested through Syracuse University’s safety escort service, SU is discontinuing its trolley route to the Nancy Cantor Warehouse in downtown Syracuse and establishing a new Euclid loop as of Monday, according to an SU news release.
Starting Monday, students and faculty traveling to or from the Warehouse will have to request a ride from the safety escort service after it begins running at 8:00 p.m. Students requesting a ride should be prepared to wait over 90 minutes for a shuttle, the service’s web page reads.
For students who need to travel to and from the Warehouse for their classes, the change in routes poses a new set of transportation challenges.
“We already have to pay for materials, and now we have to pay for Ubers home at midnight,” said Chloe McCullough, a communications design major who needs to travel to the Warehouse daily for her classes.
The new Euclid Loop runs about every half hour, an hour less than the average time students wait for a safety shuttle.
Early plans for the new loop started when PTS started to see an influx in students requesting a ride home from the safety escort service, which runs from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., in 2022.
“Ridership on this shuttle is historically low after 8 p.m., so in order to allocate its resources more efficiently, Parking and Transportation Services made the switch to an on-demand, point-to-point transportation service,” the press release read.
The trolley on the Euclid Loop – which will run from 7:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. seven days a week – will run between the Euclid and Westcott corridors, with its farthest points reaching the Syracuse Stage, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Westcott Street and Euclid Avenue.
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Also as part of the loop’s implementation, SU will institute temporary bans from using the safety escort service for students who either do not show up for their scheduled escort or cancel it. Students who do not show up for their ride three times within a two-week period will be banned from scheduling a future safety escort ride for a 14-day period, according to the new policy.
Weather-related factors like rain and snow, as well as “no-shows,” have contributed to a high number of requests and increased wait times, according to the PTS website. PTS defines no-shows as the “number of requests missing requesters at the time of pick-up.”
Even after the Euclid Loop trial, the safety escort service dashboard reported 107 no-shows and 302 cancellations so far over the course of the 2-week trial period, as of Monday evening.
PTS has emphasized that if a ride is not canceled and the student who ordered it finds another way to get to their desired location, they need to cancel the ride request because the detour causes longer wait times.
PTS cited the concentration of safety shuttle requests at night specifically as the need for the new trolley route. The safety escort service wrote that as many as 50% of shuttle requests often occur between the first hour of service between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. The influx of requests coming in at once results in immediate driver responses. Because many drivers mobilize at once at the first hour of service, this leads to increased wait times later in the night.
“Parking and Transportation Services hopes that the introduction of the shuttle will alleviate the demand on its safety escort service, which can be overwhelmed with requests right at 8 p.m., driving up wait times that linger until the early morning hours,” the release reads.
PTS ran a two-week trial period before implementing the Euclid Loop as a permanent route on Monday morning. The route has averaged between 100 and 200 riders per night over the course of its trial period, according to the release.
The Euclid Loop intends to decrease the amount of ride requests submitted to the escort service by giving students who live on the East side of main campus a different late-night option. But during the loop’s 14-day trial period, the escort service still reported 1,388 rides, according to its trial dashboard.
PTS is optimistic about the effects of adding the new late-night shuttle route this semester, pointing to potential for decreased wait times and higher serviceability.
“We hope that putting a larger vehicle into service in an area serving many students will allow more students to receive their safety escort in a timely manner,” the Parking and Transportation website reads.
But despite PTS citing ridership on the former Warehouse loop as “historically low” after 8 p.m, students like McCullough who travel to and from the Warehouse are left without consistent, reliable transportation..
“I don’t want to wait 90 minutes for a safety shuttle just to wake up at 7:00 a.m. to get back on the bus again,” McCullough said.
Published on January 30, 2023 at 10:59 pm