Parking services uses new, larger bus to accommodate wait times in free lot

February 14, 2017

Kyle Guthrie

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     The newest addition to campus is the 40-foot bus transporting students during busy class hours.

     Parking and Transportation Services hopes to combat wait times with this bus, which can sit 45 people with additional room for standing.

     The new bus will replace two of the 35-foot buses, which only had capacity for 32 sitting students.

     Jim Spice, executive director of Parking and Transportation Services, said that not only does the department hope to reduce wait and transportation time for students, but also decrease maintenance costs.

     “The new (bus) is what they consider a medium/ heavy bus, and it is more built for the wear and tear that we put on it,” he said.

     The even break of costs between the small bus and the new bus will be offset by maintenance costs, which will be determined during the buses’ trial on campus, according to Spice.

     The smaller buses cost $150,000 each, while the new bus cost $300,000.

     “Our hope is that it will not only carry more passengers, but since it is built for the wear and tear, we will hopefully decrease our maintenance issues.”

     If the trial is successful, parking services will purchase more 40-foot buses in the future.

     Due to the high demand for student transportation at certain times, the bus will be designated for transport between the Ent Center for the Arts parking, Lot 576 and main campus.

     “That is where our largest demand is,” Spice said. “We also scheduled it so that the bus arrives about 30 minutes prior to each class start due to the high demand at those times.”

     In addition to seats, the new bus can also accommodate 16-20 standing students. Unlike the old bus, students can use standing space for routes going up or down hill.

     James Rehkopf, Transportation field manager, explained that the new bus will improve a system that they have been working on.

     “We used to have lines where students would wait for three buses, but right now I am not aware of many long wait times for the students,” he said.

     “When we get shorted a bus because of mechanical issues, sometimes we will get a line again, but even then it is not like it used to be when students would have to wait for like two or three buses before they got a lift.”

     During the trial run, the cost of gasoline for the new bus will be monitored, and parking services will determine whether or not it is financially sound to look into buying more.

     “We are actually going to have to see how it performs going up and down the hill to see what kind of diesel settings it has, and what kind of miles-per-gallon it really gets,” Rehkopf said.

     “(The new bus) has the same engine as the original buses, but it has a new transmission, so we will have to run it for a while to see what kind of mileage it can get.”

     Spice also pointed out that the new buses will be available for student charters and event transportation. “Say a student club or athletic team wishes to lease one of our buses to go to a ski trip.

     We can now just have them use the one bus rather than relying on two smaller ones.”