We often use this space to discuss the larger issues facing the College: finances, the academic program, and environmental goals among them. Our focus today resides with a smaller—but nonetheless important—facet of the College that is dear to the hearts of students.
The Bowdoin Shuttle provides an essential service to the College. We save the dispatch center's number in our cell phones under "Safe Ride," the former name of the nighttime shuttle service. Yet, despite a generally favorable opinion of the Shuttle, students—as well as the Office of Safety and Security—would benefit immensely from the improvement of certain elements.
One year ago, after requests were made to increase service, Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols told Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) that adding a third Shuttle was not plausible. We agree that a more substantial program is required, but the current number of vehicles could satisfy demand if used more efficiently—a preferable solution given the costs of additional drivers and fuel.
Problems with Shuttle communication ripple through the system. A missed ride causes another call, needlessly clogging the pipeline. Additionally, inconsistencies between where Security outlines the Shuttle will travel and where drivers will actually deliver students cause confusion. This confusion is avoidable.
The service ought to examine new possibilities to get students to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible. With long delays for pickups, students try to time their exits from buildings just right. Of course, this only results in more missed connections; the problem is cyclical. So with no way to know when the Shuttle will arrive, we stand out in the cold to ensure we get our ride.
In the near future, we hope that the Shuttle will be equipped with tracking systems so that students can view where on campus the vans are at any given moment. In the long term, the entire system should be automated: requests sent digitally, location-based queues established, and viewable waiting lists. This would mitigate the number of no-shows, cut down on wait times, lower the amount of minutes wasted for drivers and riders alike, and eliminate the cost of paying a dispatcher.
Should BSG—in conjunction with Security—decide to take this issue on, it would undoubtedly be supported by students. What we seek is specific and relatively minor, and our suggestion for initial change is easy to implement. Quite quickly, we hope a van tracking system is given the green light.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Nick Daniels, Piper Grosswendt, Linda Kinstler and Seth Walder.