Lack of parking at Ralston causes changes to shuttle route schedule

Abbey Haldeman, Assistant News editor

“We went from 300 – and – some – odd students who participated the program down to less than 80,” John Pesta, executive director of capitol projects said about the shuttle service usage.

Last year, university staff decided it was time to cut back on the hours for the shuttle service. There was less use and it was not efficient for them to be spending university dollars to provide gas for shuttles that were not carrying students.

Since there services began, Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 6-10 p.m., there was at least one shuttle running. After the decrease in usage, however, and the cut back on the times, the shuttles now run, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and continue with the Sunday evening run.

While there has never been a Saturday run for the shuttles from the time they began, they do provide the service on Saturday’s when there are home sporting events taking place at the fields. In addition to those times, the shuttle will only run on Saturdays if requested previously by a group.

Students like sophomore pre-pharmacy major Allison Bitner aren’t even aware of the time schedule for the shuttle or its multi-purpose use.

Bitner said she thinks the shuttle runs every 15 minutes and she guesses it is used to shuttle kids around to different areas of campus.

The shuttle service for students at Wilkes’ which has been in place since the late ‘90s, allows for transportation for students who park at Ralston Athletics Field, those attending sporting events and special requested trips to the mall or Chacko’s Family Bowling Center. During trips to and from Ralston they shuttle will also make stops at the university bookstore or in the square if requested by a passenger.

The vast majority use of the shuttle comes from those students who either didn’t get a space on campus, or commuter students who park at Ralston.

Manager of capital projects Paul Kaspriskie said there are somewhere around 90 people taking advantage of the 300 parking spots available to them at Ralston and due to their lack in participation, came the adjustment and changes to shuttle runs.

Neither Pesta or Kaspriskie think the changes will affect many students being that after 4 p.m. anyone is able to park on campus and students who park at Ralston also have the option of parking their cars in the lot behind the Student Union Building during the weekends.

So, why are students taking advantage of the shuttle runs or the Ralston field-parking program?

“Everybody is in a rush,”Kaspriskie said,

He and Pesta said for students to park over there, they have to plan accordingly and get to campus earlier than they would if they could park in the student center. For some, that seems like an inconvenience.

Students like Bitner have found that sometimes the shuttle can be late, which can cause frustration.

Pesta said that most of the times when the shuttle runs off schedule it is because of traffic issues, things the drivers cannot control, but that 99 percent of the time they make the run every half hour.

“I don’t want anybody waiting,” Kaspriskie said. “If it means a couple more trips an hour, it means a couple more trips an hour.”

With four part-time drivers, there are always two on at a time as well as two shuttles available. For the majority of the time, only one shuttle runs and one sits at the field unless instructed otherwise.

“If participation in the Ralston field parking program increases we’ll need to accommodate the additional students with our services,” Pesta said.

For now, the shuttles will continue with their Monday through Friday and Sunday evening runs.