Opinion: Students shouldn't take ASU's intercampus shuttles for granted

The shuttles are an effective way to travel between campuses

ASU’s intercampus shuttles rank as one of the most polarizing topics among Sun Devil students. They get hot, the air conditioning and Wi-Fi don't always work, there's not a lot of leg room and during the afternoons, a late shuttle can throw off the rest of your day. 

Despite all of those inconveniences, the shuttles are still some of the best non-academic resources available to students.

With routes across the Phoenix metropolitan area, the shuttle system is the easiest way for students to get between campuses. 

Some students take the shuttles for granted or may even be unaware they have the shuttles at their disposal.

The shuttles connect the Downtown Phoenix, Tempe, Polytechnic and West campuses via charter buses, with the popular Gold and Maroon routes running every half-hour on the weekdays from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and every two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekends. 

Despite the aforementioned pitfalls,  the shuttles are quite reliable and accommodating, and students might underappreciate just how nice the shuttles service truly is. 

Last November, ASU’s Parking and Transit Services (PTS) indicated in an article published by The State Press that there would be improvements coming to the shuttles in the future, including that “improved AC units and three different types of window tints (had) been tested on shuttles throughout the semester.”

“Those things are all still in progress,” said JC Porter, assistant director for commuter services for PTS. “We are working to hit that goal. I hope (students) will perceive (the changes) well and appreciate the coolness.”

In Arizona, air conditioning — especially when the temperature eclipses triple digits — is essential to everyday life. PTS’ awareness and readiness to change the existing AC system, among other improvements, showcases its desire to provide the best possible transportation for anyone who rides the shuttles, whether it is on a consistent or sporadic basis. 

“I try to get on the shuttle at least two to three times a week to make sure everything is running smoothly,” Porter said. “We try to stay on top of everything we can as much as we can. I talk to students a lot about the shuttle who say it’s the best nap they get all day.”

Each shuttle also offers Wi-Fi, allowing students to multitask on board.

In addition to providing convenience and comfort with the shuttles, PTS looks for various ways to improve bus efficiency. Rush-hour traffic in downtown and metro-Phoenix can come to a stand-still at times, so PTS added a fifth loop to compensate for the busier times during the day. 

While a late shuttle during rush-hour can be frustrating, it is not exactly in the shuttle service's control.

Porter said the fifth route extends to the West campus in the morning and Tempe campus in the afternoon to ensure buses leave on time from the respective campuses. 

“It’s helped tremendously,” Porter said. “Traffic is not affecting (the buses) as much as it used to. That’s the idea behind helping with the traffic and congestion. Adding that fifth loop has really helped give the bus more time to get where it’s going.”

The shuttles’ convenience does not stop there, though. 

The campus shuttle tracker on ASU’s website, which can be accessed on smartphones, shows where every operating shuttle is in real time. It also shows the estimated arrival time of every individual bus’ next two stops as well as its current capacity for upcoming riders to decide which bus works best for them. 

“It’s really user-friendly,” Porter said. “We try to make it as easy as possible for students to get necessary information and plan out their days and get them where they need to go.”

Many students already know about the shuttles and ride them consistently, but they should not take them for granted. While there are times when the shuttle may be running late or breaks down, those instances are not as common as students may think.

The best thing to do is appreciate what ASU offers through the shuttle service as opposed to what the alternative might look like. Compared to  $15 Uber from Tempe to Phoenix, a free ride in a (slightly cramped) bus does not sound too bad.  

Reach the columnist at Steven.Slobodzian@asu.edu or follow @PSlobodzianASU on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

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