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Route Redirection: Transportation readies route changes for Fall 2014

From The Battalion Online

Published: November 17, 2013

The wheels are turning to enact changes in Texas A&M’s off-campus bus routes in an effort to better utilize transportation resources.

Transportation Services has proposed a plan that will affect five bus routes, although the most significant changes are to Routes 31, 33 and 34. The changes, which Transportation Services said will increase efficiency on the routes and decrease the time each route takes, will take effect in Fall 2014 if approved.

Route 31, Elephant Walk, is one of the routes Transportation Services plans to adjust for next year. Southwest Parkway, the route’s main street, only services stops on one side of the road. The proposed change would add stops to the other side so students can avoid walking across four lanes of traffic to get to their stop. Low ridership has also been noted along Holleman Dr., and the change would stop service along that road, which would stop service to the Oney Hervey stop.

Route 33, Texas Aggies, is popular among students on campus because it services a stop at the Walmart Ave. However, other stops along that route have low ridership.

The plan proposed by transportation is to combine Route 33 with Route 34, Fish Camp, which runs along similar roads as Route 33 and has shown low ridership data in certain areas. Combining the routes will result in a 15-minute round trip travel time and will allow transportation to reduce the number of buses used for the buses used for the route from four to three. Madeline Dillard, associate director for Transportation Services, said the changes benefits other routes besides 33 and 34.

“The combining of Routes 33 and 34 will allow us to move a bus to Route 36 that carries far more passengers than 33 and 34 combined,” Dillard said. “This change enables us to maximize our resources and move a bus to help handle higher capacity of passengers.”

Autumn Graham, junior communication major, rides Route 31. She said this year the bus is crowded and much less predictable than it was last year.

“Last year I rode the bus every single day, but now I try to find other ways to get to campus with friends or driving myself to campus rather than having to wait on a bus that is unpredictable, often overcrowded and hardly ever on time,” Graham said.

When Graham was told about the plans Transportation Services has for next fall, she said the plan would have positive effects for students using the bus system.

“That would be so much safer,” Graham said. “I seriously get so tired of having to cross four lanes of traffic to get to my stop that is across the street on Southwest Parkway and dodging cars and hoping they will stop. There is no crosswalk or anything like that close to make the walk safer. Also, I think that it would definitely help speed up the route if they got rid of the Holleman stop.”

Representatives from Transportation Services spoke at last week’s Student Senate meeting to inform senators about the proposition. Peter Lange, executive director of Transportation Services, said transportation is making an effort to inform students of the plan now before housing plans can be made for the fall.

“We held an open forum for student input last month and will be holding another one on Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in theMSC,” Lange said. “We have signage advertising the forum and the changes at the on-campus stops for the routes affected. We have presented to the Student Senate and the Transportation Services Advisory Committee, which has student representation. We also will present to the Graduate Student Council.”

Other changes have also been planned for Routes 35 and 36, but these changes are not expected of have a significant effect on people who ride the bus to campus, Transportation Services said.