While the Keene State College shuttle bus has been an aid to some, others complain it’s not adequately doing its job. And with temperatures nearing or close to the negatives, students find this agitating and uncomfortable.
KSC senior Dylan Renner said the service used to be better back when he was a sophomore two years ago.
“They would pick me up at Walmart and bring me back to the dorms. It was all times of the day, sometimes even at four in the morning,” he said.
Renner said that it’s been a bit more difficult this year.
“I called them two weeks ago to pick me up at ten in the morning because it was raining and they wouldn’t; they said they weren’t active on the weekends or something like that,” he said.
Renner said it hasn’t been too much of an issue for him otherwise because it’s not as prevalent an issue as it was his sophomore year while living on campus.
Junior Jocelyn Lencki said this year she’s experienced both good and bad service from the shuttle. Lencki said, “I’ve called them and they said that they weren’t going to pick me up and [they] hung up; it was on a Thursday. When online it said the shuttle was running.”
She said that other times they have picked her up. “I’ve had good experiences where they’ve picked my roommates and myself up and brought us to places when it was freezing cold and raining or snowing,” she said.
Lencki said both occurrences happened on Thursday evening.
Senior Matt Pereira said he has also had issues with the shuttle busses.
“One time I sat in the [Winchester] parking lot for an hour in the pouring rain waiting for the Keene shuttle. I called three times and they insisted the bus was on its way. The bus also passed by me three times on Winchester Street and still didn’t pick me up,” he said.
Pereira said this occurred later than 8 p.m.
Both Lencki and Pereira said there are solutions to this problem.
Lencki said she thinks Campus safety can address this issue by making sure everyone knows the hours the buses are actually available. “At the beginning of each semester, [they could] send out an email reminding students of the hours [they are available],” she said.
Pereira said the school should have more than one bus accessible for students so no student gets ignored.
“I know schools that let their campus safety pick people up. They have two to three campus safety officers on duty who give their students rides late at night if they don’t feel safe. I don’t understand why Keene doesn’t do that; it’s not like campus safety is doing much of anything these days,” he said.
He said he has seen them just driving around, not appearing to do much. Pereira said, “Why can’t they drive students on their way, you know?”
Lencki said that having more applicable running times for students who get out of class or work late would help as well. “I just remember having to always call making sure [the shuttles] were running and that was very annoying,” she said.
Renner said it would be great if the college could have the bus extend the route to a two-mile radius. He also said, “I think it would always be good to have a driver on-hand or hire people to drive the van instead of having officers do it themselves.”
Assistant Director of Campus Safety Leonard Crossman said that this can be difficult with only two available bus drivers.
“Both of our drivers are part-time, so we have to work to make sure they cover the times we have available. Rarely or infrequently [do] they call out,” he said.
Crossman said that currently campus safety is in the middle of training three officers to drive the bus, and that the three should be done by the end of the month. But he said that being understaffed has been an issue for them in the past.
Crossman also said there are other factors such as weather conditions or holidays that can affect the shuttle running. “We are running ninety percent of the time,” Crossman said, “[But] we’ve had issues where the shuttle has broken down [or] there are times where we are absent.”
He said that at other times the shuttle isn’t set up when a student calls. “We’ve told people they’ve had to wait because the shuttle hasn’t started up yet; that happens once in awhile [but] no one should be waiting for fifteen or twenty minutes,” Crossman said.
He said that they try to get there as soon as possible if it is an issue of safety or a student feels at risk. Crossman said, “We do hold safety as a pretty high priority, however we’re subjected to the availability of staff on call.”
He said that if the call is about safety risk, the caller should start off by saying this and someone should arrive promptly.
“We can’t always guarantee a car, but an officer can walk with you,” Crossman said.
He said if for some reason they can’t make it there right away, students should either get in their car if they have one, or a lite building.
“Keep your doors locked, [or] stay in a well lite area,” Crossman said.
Lencki said that in the worse-case scenario, there are alternative actions to take if the shuttle or an escort can’t assist. She said, “I would say to call a friend who can come get you if they can, [or] call KPD if you feel more uncomfortable.”
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