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Transpo ridership declines

Emily Schrank | Wednesday, November 17, 2010

After a recent decrease in student use of the free Transpo weekend bus service, student government is exploring ways to promote the 7A route and encourage ridership, Student Senate Off-Campus Concerns chair Emily LeStrange said.


“The biggest issue with the route is inconsistency in ridership,” LeStrange said. “One weekend in September, 237 people rode Transpo, but the next weekend only 23 used it. We usually average 150 students per weekend, though.”


LeStrange said her committee is working to determine the reason for the inconsistency. She said they are also developing new methods of promotion so the student body is more aware of the route.


LeStrange said “Whine Week,” in which students could air complaints to student government, last week revealed that many members of the student body are not familiar with the Transpo system.


“Whine Week showed us that people don’t know that much about the 7A Route, so we’re going to increase our promotional efforts in order to boost ridership each weekend,” she said. “We want all students to know about the service and how it works, largely because it’s a safe, free and reliable way of getting where you want to go on Friday and Saturday nights.”


According to LeStrange, 283 students rode the Transpo this past weekend.


“We revamped the Transpo 7A wallet card so that it is easier to read and we included the updated schedule on the back of the card,” she said. “We’re still working on getting the word out about the route to freshman who may be unfamiliar with the service, too.”


LeStrange said her committee is working with the Campus Technology Committee and Off-Campus Council to explore the possibility of implementing a real-time Transpo GPS tracking system.


“Students could use the tracking system to find out where the bus is on its route by downloading an app on smart phones like iPhones, Blackberries or Droids,” she said. “Similar services are available at Boston College, Auburn and Emory, and they have been widely popular.”


LeStrange said student government’s foremost concern is the safety of the students.


“The Transpo 7A route is an awesome resource for students on Friday and Saturday nights,” she said. “It provides a free mode of transportation and, more importantly, it provides a safe way of getting where you want to go without having to walk through dangerous areas at night.”


LeStrange said Student Government pays $15,000 a year for the weekend bus service, but viewed the expense as a way of ensuring student safety, LeStrange said.


“It provides students with a reliable option of transportation that is fast and free,” she said.