University buses cause student concern

Ellen McDonald Staff Writer [email protected]

For many students, riding on one of the university’s many buses is a part of their daily routine. Whether they are a transfer student, live off campus or simply need to get to class without walking across campus, a large number of students utilize transportation services. 

However, in recent weeks, there has been a bit of a concern for the reliability of the university’s buses. Issues with the timeliness of the drivers, the cleanliness and upkeep of the buses and the general safety for students have been questioned recently.  

Azaria Feagin, a freshman at UNA, vocalized her concern for her personal safety while utilizing the university’s buses. 

Feagin explained that while she had been on the buses, there have been a few instances where the driver had slammed on the buses brakes. 

Feagin elaborated, saying that she thought the driver was speeding up to pass someone and the intense breaking caused her to slide out of her seat. 

Furthermore, she expressed that on most days, the buses are clean and up to par; however, there are a number of moments where there is trash on the floors and seats. 

In contrast with these issues, Justice Chasteen, a student at the university, explained that she has noticed no major issues with the buses in recent weeks. Chasteen utilizes this service provided by UNA nearly every week day on her way to and from her classes. 

She explained that the only time a bus has ever been late is when there is a new driver learning the routes. 

The only issue she has with the university bus system is that there is not a route that can take her to east campus during a time that aligns with her schedule. As a culinary arts student, all of Chasteen’s classes are beyond the reach of UNA’s transportation services. 

Chasteen said that the bus routes used to be able to get her to east campus in time for her 8 a.m. classes, but they no longer do. The bus route “Leo” only goes to that part of campus once every hour, meaning students like Chasteen cannot utilize this service without being late or missing classes altogether. 

Michael Gautney, the Assistant Vice President of Facilities Administration and Planning, said that the buses were purchased through a federal grant back in 2003. This makes the buses seventeen years old. It is to be expected that as buses get older, more issues will arise. 

Due to the buses being purchased through a federal grant, the university are required to have a yearly safety inspection and the bus drivers are required to submit a log everyday with concerns over the buses that they have. So, the university is aware of the new issues arising within their buses. 

While the university is constantly monitoring the care and upkeep of the buses, students might disagree with these claims. Students such as Feagin voice concern for the maintenance of the brakes. She said that when the driver brakes, she can hear a horrible screeching sound. For students, this is very alarming. 

While students have noticed these issues with the brakes and the habits of the drivers, the university believes the most typical issue within the buses to be the air conditioning. 

Annually, thousands of dollars are spent to ensure that the air conditioning within the buses are functional. While the air conditioning is a major concern, the university is aware that the brakes are an issue and that steps are being made to fix them, according to Gautney. 

During a typical week, there can be up to three buses in an off-campus service repair store. The buses also undergo a monthly cleaning performed by a staff member, to ensure the upkeep of the buses. 

While the buses have causes for concern amongst some students, for others there are no issues. Taylor Gray, a student who makes use of the buses a few times a month, explained that she sees nothing wrong with them. 

She did however emphasize that the bus routes need to be advertised more. “Many students don’t know about them and their times,” Gray said. 

Another student, Sydney McDonald, also said that she has noticed no major issues with the buses; but, there have been a few minor issues. 

McDonald did however explain that she has noticed that the buses, “Leo” in particular have broken down easily. McDonald lives off campus and utilizes the buses a few times most weeks. Like many off campus students, she relies on the university buses to get her to campus. 

 The buses are older and like explained earlier, this can cause issues to arise. “It (the Leo bus) broke down, but the driver was very nice brought his own van to help get us to campus.” 

McDonald made clear that while there are some issues with the buses themselves, the driver’s are extremely adequate. 

She made clear that the driver’s do everything in their power to make sure the students get to where they need to go.  

The fact remains that the buses seem to be upkept and taken very well care of when speaking to university officials. However, one can assume that some of the issues vocalized by Feagin and others could be the result of the age of the buses. While they might be concerning to students, the university seems to be doing everything they can to resolve these issues. 

While students may have concerns regarding transportation services, what happens behind the scenes, seems to be moving the buses towards the right direction when it comes to the welfare of the university’s students.