More than Just Buses

From The Battalion

By Wardah Khalid

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2007

Like many other Aggies, I have experienced my share of disappointments with the bus system this semester. Last week, for instance, I waited twenty minutes for a bus to campus because the first one that went past me was too full to stop. Before you start complaining along with me, however, hear me out. There is more than meets the eye when it comes to the bus system, and the sooner students learn this, the better.

Drivers getting lost, filled-to-the-brim buses, long wait times, and complicated routes are all grievances that have been issued against Transportation Services. As time goes by, it seems like the allegations are becoming worse. Why can't Transportation Services get it right? Unfortunately, the answer is not simple.

First of all, there are a lot more students to shuttle around campus and the College Station area than there were in the past, as more freshmen have enrolled this year than ever before. Texas A&M currently has 79 buses to handle the demand, according to the Transportation Services website. In addition, some of these buses are inefficient and need to be replaced.

"We have 22 old Thomas buses that cost $15,000 per year just to maintain," Director of Transportation Services, Rod Weis said. "If one of their engines goes out, it costs $22,000 to repair it and we are out a bus for as long as that takes."

Obviously, more students means that an increased number of efficient buses are needed, but this will mean a fee increase for students.

"We currently have $2 million in reserve to purchase new buses, but we need $8 million," Weis said. "I will be talking to student leaders in the next three weeks to discuss raising funds for these buses so we can provide more services for them."

Other troubles for the bus system include: ongoing construction, rising fuel costs, and difficulty hiring student drivers who will work over twelve hours per week. The last issue is in part due to the flat rate tuition system, which has resulted in students taking more hours than before, Weis said.

One of the biggest problems is caused by the students themselves. That's right - us. Admit it, we all try to get on the bus 10 minutes before class and then are shocked to find that there are no seats left. Yes, it is frustrating, but with hundreds of other students doing the same thing at the same time, is it really that much of a surprise?

Obviously, Transportation Services has a bit of a way to go before the bus system can run like students want it to. By supporting a fee increase, those that complain about the lack of buses can have their prayers answered.

Those against a fee increase can exercise the other transportation options available to them. This may mean getting up earlier to take an emptier bus, purchasing a parking pass, catching a ride with a friend, or even living closer to or on campus. The bottom line? Whining alone won't do anything. Take action if you want to see a change.