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Bad weather causes transportation trouble

Tabitha Ricketts | Friday, January 25, 2013


Heavy winter weather has made transportation off campus difficult for Saint Mary’s students.

With snow and ice making biking nearly impossible, Belles are seeking other options to get to Notre Dame for classes and meetings.

Sophomore Rebecca Walker does not have a car on campus to take her to Notre Dame for Science Fiction and Fantasy Club gatherings.

“The trolley [Transpo bus] is really nice because it gets me to Notre Dame, but it’s really inconvenient … because the trolley likes to be late,” she said. “And on the rare occasion that you need it to be late, it’s early.”

Some students with classes at Notre Dame said the listed bus schedules do not always match up with class hours. These problems are exacerbated by the seasonal weather.

“If the weather’s bad, that means the [bus] will even more likely be late,” Walker said. “Monday night … I was waiting at least 10 minutes out in the snow.”

David Gariepy, director of security, said the wait might seem longer for students who are dressed inappropriately.

“Increased ridership on our buses also … slow our buses down,” he said. “They do a pretty good job for the most part. During the winter, roads are ice-covered … Traffic moves at a much slower pace during this time of year. I would encourage students to dress warmly.”

“We have the Blinkie escort van, which runs a regular route from the residence hall parking lots from dark until 2 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and from dark until 4 a.m. Fridays through Sundays,” Gariepy said. “It extends its route to the Grotto after The Sweep [Transpo route] stops running.”

While the Security Department offers these options for later hours, Gariepy said he encourages students to use buses when they are operating.

Students frequently complain the buses do not run Sundays.

“On Sundays, it’s difficult to get [to Notre Dame] when the weather is bad and Blinky doesn’t start until 7:30 [p.m.],” Steron said.

Transportation is easier for students with cars on campus, though this also has its disadvantages.

“Parking here is not that great,” Kramer said. “Angela [Athletic Facility] parking is really far away, and parking for students at Regina [Hall] is limited.”

Kramer said she tries to avoid driving when the weather is bad and roads are icy.

Even when the weather was warmer, students found transportation to and from Notre Dame difficult.

“Class times are so close together that traveling by foot or by bike takes so long that you may be late,” Costello said.

Safety risks are also a concern.

“I have a bike on campus, but I don’t really use it because I don’t feel safe using it,” Walker said. “The only place I’d have to use it is to get to Notre Dame, but I don’t feel comfortable stopping at [North Michigan Street.] … The pedestrian light is so quick. … Even if you’re there when it turns green you have to run, because it’s red by the time you get to the other side.”

Gariepy said this has been brought to his attention before.

“We’ve talked to the highway department about [the pedestrian light], and they’ve checked the light and they feel that for the flow of traffic, it’s appropriate,” he said, “but I understand how that can be a frustration. … If you follow the rules of the road, it should be safe.”

Walker said she would appreciate the ability to rent or borrow cars from the College and more transportation options for Sundays.

Gariepy said he encourages students to be patient, particularly during the winter months.

“We can’t always please everyone,” he said. “There can’t be instant gratification. Just understand that there are going to be delays when there is an excess amount of ridership.”

He said regular stranded student policies are in effect, although the response may be delayed by weather circumstances.

“Anytime a student is off campus … we will do everything we can to get them back safely,” he said. “Anywhere within a 5-mile radius of campus isn’t too much of a burden … But we only have two security cars on duty at a time. [If we have to,] we’ll send a taxi to pickup the student.”

“Try to be a little understanding, especially during this weather. That’s where I think dressing warmly really helps.”