Green line usage declines

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May 1, 2007

3:33 AM

__Statistics show students, staff take half as many rides per year as two years ago__

p. Student and staff use of the Green line bus route, which primarily serves the College, has fallen over the last two years, according to data obtained by The Flat Hat from the College Parking and Transportation Office.

p. 118,918 rides were taken on the Green line from August to March during the 2004-2005 academic year, but that fell to 97,097 during the same period in 2005-2006. This year 62,581 rides have been taken, barely half the number from two years ago.

p. “One big factor was the elimination of the Dillard Complex … another is the construction of the Jamestown dorms,” Bill Horacio III, Parking and Transportation Manager at the College, said.

p. The Dillard complex, which used to house 289 largely bus-dependent students, was closed at the end of last year. Horatio said that the construction of Jamestown also brought many upperclassmen to a central location, where riding the bus was not necessary.

p. Three bus drivers who were interviewed said that they felt the decision to run both busses in one direction was also causing the decline.

p. Until this year, the busses ran in opposite directions.

p. “I’m pretty sure that if the busses went both ways, you’d start seeing people riding them more,” Willie Hirschberg, who drives weekend nights, said. “I think it should go both ways. I think I should do one way for half hour, then turn around and do another half hour that way.”

p. Horatio said that his office had looked into the issue. While admitting the possibility that going just both ways turned away riders, he said that his office concluded that going just one way was beneficial.

p. “If we had the busses run both ways, the wait time would have to be half an hour at some stops,” Horatio said. “Running the busses one way, students only have to wait 15 minutes at any stop. We decided to reduce the time that any student would have to spend waiting at a stop.”

p. Because Dillard was eliminated the same time as the one-way policy began, it is hard to tell which is more responsible for the drop in use. There has been no similar drop in student and staff use of the other bus lines. Hirschberg said that, in the past, many of his riders had gone to or from Dillard, but probably not most of them.

p. Hirschberg also said that on his weekend night shifts he could sometimes make his rounds 5 or 6 times without one person getting on the bus.

p. He speculated about the drop in people taking the bus to the Delis. “It’s weird; it’s a like new generation … like all the partiers graduated.”

p. Horatio said that a lack of information might be the problem.
“One thing that continually amazes me is that many students I talk to, including students who have had their license or parking privileges revoked, don’t know that they can ride the busses for free.”

p. He added that he hoped more people would use the busses as word becomes more widespread.

p. The college currently pays $302,959 to run the Green line and to get free access to the other lines.

p. Last year, the cost to the college of each ride taken was $3.12. County Williamsburg Area Transport officials referred all questions to officials at the College who make the decisions about the Green line and its route.

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