Student Input on Late Shuttle Sought by 2/28/21

Transportation Services is investigating new ways to provide rides to students at night when WTA buses have stopped running. What do you think is the best way to provide this late night service? Please leave your comment below.

Need more info? This document contains information about late night services.

Thank you for your input and be well.

General Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/02/2021 - 23:59

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I think that this is a great idea! It keeps the shuttle accessible while also accommodating for the current circumstances.

Submitted by Becca marx (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 16:35

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I like the WWU shuttle! If it could go to scheduled locations around the York neighborhood, n. Garden st, billy frank, high street, etc. from like 9pm to 2am that would be awesome. Also, if a student has a special request for a location that would be great too

I know some other universities have partnered with uber to create an option for students to get home safely at night, I think this would be a good idea, although maybe difficult with Bellingham's lack of ubers at night.

The hybrid demand route undoubtedly maximizes student safety and pickup. Students who find themselves in a remote location (relative to late night shuttles) should have an uber-like option (funding permitted). That being said, from an allocative efficiency standpoint, it may be better to expand the late night shuttle system. When I was a freshman last year, my issue was not knowing how to access/find when the late night shuttles were coming. A strengthened awareness initiative is needed to increase student safety and ridership. Students will not take a shuttle they find unreliable!

Submitted by Casper (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 16:42

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I used the late night shuttle quite a few times when I lived near campus and I really relied on it at times to get home safe. I also missed it more than once, even with the shuttle tracker thing which tbh was kinda janky. Also the routes were pretty confusing to try and understand. I also remember that my friends and I would forget about this service like all the time, so it might be helpful to find a way to remind people about it better than what is available now. I like the idea of a hybrid model. I don't know how well it would actually work in practice but it sounds most ideal at least based on how I used to use the shuttle. Anyway, definitely keep the service!! Make it super easy to use. Really focus on whatever technology you are using to track/call the shuttle bc if it is super weird and janky to use or you have to open your browser and log in to use it, people will definitely get annoyed and probably not use it

Submitted by Camilla Gsteiger-Cox (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 16:49

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I think the late night shuttles are incredibly helpful and have saved me from having to walk home late at night many times. If they could run more frequently that would be nice.

I think the late night shuttles sound like a good option for students, although, I have never heard of them until now. I think it would be important to advertise these shuttles better to get more students to use them.

Submitted by Arick Grootveld (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 16:51

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I'm not an expert on this subject, but having a bike share service similar to Seattle's would be extremely convenient.

That way you could travel home quickly and safely without having to wait for shuttles and such. And then scheduling shuttles would be less of an issue.

The other benefit is that the system could be used at all hours, for example when the standard buses to campus are very full.

Of course an issue with this would be making sure that the bikes don't get damaged and that they are returned to campus in a timely manner. Not sure exactly how Seattle deals with that. Either way, that's just my suggestion.

As a more general comment, I have never used the late night shuttle even when I was out late in downtown Bellingham. I generally used Uber and other services because of how convenient it was to have someone pick me up outside wherever I was. That said, I never really tried to get the shuttle to work for me, so my lack of use may be due to misunderstanding of the system rather than anything else.

Either way, I really appreciate that WWU is taking interest in this subject, because its very important. This is yet another reason I'm proud that I went to this University!

Submitted by Jason (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 17:05

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If there is not to be a shuttle service in the later hours, I would suggest offering a ride-share like service with individuals who have not had any major traffic violations on their record in the last 3 years. Paying for it is the tricky part with a likely slush fund needing to be created to cover the costs of fuel and general automobile wear and tear, much like how a pizza delivery driver gets paid a certain amount per mile.

Submitted by Dylan (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 17:12

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I understand the value of off-hours transportation, however the funding for this operation should come only from those who utilize it. In other words, any sort of uber-esque or shuttle system should be financially self-sufficient. I don't believe it would be far to charge people equally for services if they are consumed unequally.

Submitted by Dylan Way (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 17:13

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Personally, I don't see what is wrong with leaving this to Uber alone. If there is sufficient demand for late night rides, the supply will rise to meet it.

Submitted by Rachel (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 17:36

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My driver "the Ham-burglar" wouldn't say his real name? My experience with the WWU Late Night Shuttle has been confusing to say the least. Living on campus and being in the dorms, you would expect the arrival schedule to be semi-consistent, but it isn't. I've been outside waiting for an hour (plus) just waiting and "missed" three ghost busses that never appeared. Another important aspect of this system is that the website says we are allowed a guest-- but I've been denied because I had a visitor (non-WWU student). This defeats the purpose of the shuttle--to keep us students safe-- women rarely travel alone at night--was just trying to be safe. Please Please Please-- train staff to identify themselves by their NAME or at least have ID visible (we students cannot be too cautious). This next thing-- i'm not sure if its up to transportation-- but the bus stops are DARK. I don't know about anyone else but DARK bus stops (alone) in a college town-- is SCARY. Lights are a thing that would be pretty cool.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 17:44

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I've taken the late-night shuttle many times when out late with friends when near the campus area. It beats walking home, and when you're strapped for cash and can't afford an Uber, it can get you where you need to go.

Submitted by kharma (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 18:28

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This service has been super helpful to me in the past so I would highly recomend keeping it! I think it might be helpful if perhaps there were multiple busses? I know currently there's one that goes one direction and one that goes the other, but maybe having them stay central to north campus and one on south campus that meet in the middle would be helpful since the busses wouldn't drive as far and could have lower waiting times and hit more stops in their respective areas. I think this in combination with a bus that could be call for students who are too far from the bus route would be super helpful!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 19:01

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I think a late night shuttle would be great, uber style, or maybe if there are enough resources do a regular route as well. Would be nice to know it's there when we need it

Submitted by Jo (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 19:37

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I like the idea of having the new model be a mix of shuttles and on-demand service. I've only used the late-night shuttle my freshman year, and my main concern was that it came too infrequently and the website wasn't formatted well.

I remember this one time when the bus didn't come on schedule and I felt unsafe waiting at the bus stop any longer, so I walked two miles home. I would have called an uber, but my phone died while I was waiting. I haven't used the shuttle since then because I didn't feel like I could rely on it. But if the system improves, I might use it and I hope that future students will have a better experience than I did because it's a necessary service.

Submitted by Nick Wandling (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 20:49

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When I came to campus I was really hoping I would be able to go places in Bellingham late at night, without having to walk, but I was disappointed when the night shuttle service was not around. I would definitely like this service to be implemented in some way!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 22:03

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I think keeping the shuttle is really important. My friends and I have relied on it in the past, so I think whatever you do you should not remove or reduce shuttle service from how it was before it was suspended for the pandemic. I personally have never used Uber or Lyft, and I don’t really want to have to start; it’s expensive and I’ve heard too many stories about sketchy drivers to feel entirely comfortable.

I wish I could find more information about how the “on demand” shuttle service would operate. It sounds like a good idea, but that’s hard to judge without knowing more. I do know it would be nice to have an option like that for late night in places outside the usual shuttle route (especially since some of my friends have moved outside the shuttle route while I still live in it. I’m a fan of not sleeping on the couch if I don’t have to lol). If the on-demand service would cost money outside the usual zone, I’d like to know how much. For people within the zone it sounds great–less walking in the dark!

In any case, please don’t come back with a reduced shuttle service, and if the service gets expanded, I think that’s peachy. Of the options laid out, the hybrid system is the one I’m most interested in seeing.

Submitted by Bryan Claussen (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 22:23

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A consistently running, non-changing route WWU transportation service would increase student's ease of transportation, which would help many WWU students have less stress. Through a fixed route utilizing bus stops, you need to build a process / system people can trust. It would be amazing to see how far the bus is from you on a website/app, this would help keep up with the advantage of lift/uber. The past couple years it's a lot more convenient, transparent, and trustworthy to order a ride on Uber or Lyft than to take public transport. Some students will always choose to spend money on rideshares. But it should not be the only choice! Rideshares by strangers in individual cars will always be an expensive option no matter how you cut the cake, and all students need access to consistent, reliable transportation no matter their socio-economic situation. Access to transportation directly influences if&how all the students at Western can get outside to live happy, healthy lives.

Submitted by Nadine Waggoner (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 23:11

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I used the shuttle last year and think it is a good service. The on-demand idea sounds like a fantastic way to augment the shuttle. So, I think the hybrid idea is best. I advise to maintain the shuttle but also add a few smaller vehicles as an on-demand service like uber.

Submitted by Synthia Seidel (not verified) on Mon, 02/08/2021 - 23:43

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I'm not sure what's all open along those lines so late with COVID, but I think that the more resources there are, the better!
Please implement this!

Submitted by Clement Faisandier (not verified) on Tue, 02/09/2021 - 02:06

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I think that having a few routes that can drop students off in between common student points of interest during the night would be the best option. For instance, between campus, Fairhaven downtown and Bellingham downtown, as well as neighborhoods students often live/party in.

Also I think having an app/web page that clearly indicates when and where the stops are would be super helpful. If no one knows how to use the service they won't use it.

Submitted by Solomon Duke (not verified) on Tue, 02/09/2021 - 04:18

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I think this is a great idea that will promote student safety while reducing emissions at the same time! A fixed system sounds a lot easier to operate, but hybrid could be great if done right.

Submitted by Tanner T. (not verified) on Tue, 02/09/2021 - 10:04

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Some questions about the on-demand service: Would this allow for student employees to become drivers? How much does the area covered by the on demand services expand compared to the classic "bus route" system? How much more does the on-demand system cost? Are Uber or Lyft drivers willing to use the school's alternative system instead of driving for those companies? What are the benefits of driving under this system vs. driving with companies like Uber or Lyft? Answering questions like these might help make up people's minds about the new potential changes.

I do like the current system and have used it a couple times. It's pretty cost effective if you look at the numbers, only 15% of the budget for the alternative transportation fee, the fee totaling a little less than $30 per quarter. This makes the late night shuttle as it stands something less than $4.50 per quarter. Now let's say you use it to get from the bus station downtown to Birnam Wood for example, the cost of riding the shuttle for two quarters is less than one ride with Uber, according to Uber's estimation tool.

Although, I also recognize the data, that there's less late shuttle use as these on demand services have popped up. I think it's a convenience which many people do like. I also think the school would work out the logistics. However it is still my opinion that I personally prefer an itinerary or schedule over a fully 100% on-demand system. It's just more compatible with my brain in some inexplicable way.

Submitted by S.G (not verified) on Tue, 02/09/2021 - 19:50

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Hybrid model sounds great.
I think including an on-demand feature as part of a hybrid model is a great idea, especially since it means that multiple students going to/coming from the same late night event could go to their destination efficiently.
That said, I think its still important to have a clear route that best serves the students' general late night whereabouts, so students can still use the shuttle without having to call for a ride if they are near the shuttle's standard route. I also echo other people's comments on having an app that sends real-time location of shuttles to know how close they are, as I think that would greatly increase student's likelihood of choosing to use the shuttle in the first place.

Submitted by Ryan (not verified) on Tue, 02/09/2021 - 20:14

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I love the concept of students getting home safely. I do not like the idea that we have to pay out of our tuition for services that we are not currently using as online students. I have never set foot on campus as an online transfer student and I believe that I should not have to pay for someone else to get a safe ride home. What ever happened to personal responsibility, you miss that last bus and have to phone a friend or even walk a few miles? Why should we also be paying for things like the gymnasium that we are not allowed to use due to covid? the whole thing is a scam and numbers show a decline in the use of the service. cancel it. save the rest of us some money. use that saved money to hire security guards to give people rides if they really feel unsafe.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/09/2021 - 22:10

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As I understand it, I don't like the idea of using Uber or Lyft, the corporations seem to take a lot of the profit leaving the drivers just enough to break even.

If we did opt for a ride sharing company, I'd hope we'd partner with Viking food or something local.

I like the idea of the shuttle bus, I'm not super familiar with the current system. What if we partnered with WTA to offer a late night shuttle system? Potentially we could reduce costs by sharing the ride system with non-western students while reducing user complexity via WTA's already existent system.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/10/2021 - 18:26

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I think it would be great to have a hybrid system. I definitely hope we are able to keep the late night shuttle service as it is really easy to use and there is no limit on how often you can use it. The possibility of Uber/Lyft type service through western would be extremely convenient but due to lack of drivers in Bellingham or other factors i understand it could be hard to make a reality. If there is a Uber/Lyft service would our transportation fee pay for the service or would there still be an out of pocket cost for the students? If it will be paid from our transportation fee will there be a limit on how much we can use the service in the quarter? Also if there is only an Uber/Lyft type service what steps will be in place when there is a high demand at once? If it is simply waiting I feel like there should be the option of multiple options.

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The late night shuttle (small white bus) outside the VU