Students push York College to expand shuttle bus service
Editor's note: The York Dispatch is running a series of stories written by student journalists as part of a mentorship program with York College. In this story, Vaughntay Mcgraw writes about the college's shuttle bus service.
York College's shuttles are a fixture on campus, but students are pressing the institution to expand beyond its 2 square miles of regular bus routes.
For some, it's a matter of convenience — greater access to grocery stores, gyms and off-campus housing — and for others it's a matter of safety. Whether students are returning from downtown or commuting to class from off campus, those who don't own a car find that the shuttles offer few options.
“I think that the shuttle should include a stop for the new Springettsbury apartments,” said junior Bella Covell.
For students like Covell who live in apartments across York City, the absence of a partnership with Rabbit Transit means increased transportation costs and difficulty planning their lives — classes, part-time work and socializing — across multiple bus systems.
Weekends present a unique challenge. The campus shuttle doesn't begin operating until 9:30 p.m. and stops running at 2:30 a.m. Saturday and 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
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At a recent student town hall, York College President Pamela Gunter-Smith said the school offered more expansive shuttle services in the past but didn’t have the number of riders to justify the cost.
She added that the COVID-19 pandemic led many shuttle staff members to retire, affecting the school’s ability to maintain the service. Currently, she said, there is a shortage of drivers.
Lt. Timothy Langletz, of the York College Campus Safety Police Department, said he's not opposed to expanding the shuttle service but noted that the college hasn't had any official requests from student government to do so.
He said any expansion would be subject to budgetary constraints: An earlier start to shuttle service would force the service to shut down earlier in the evening, too.
Students have also expressed concerns about safety, having to walk home in the dark after the shuttle bus service ends. Langletz, when asked about such concerns, placed the responsibility on students.
“We encourage our students to live on campus in college-owned housing, which is the safest option," he said in a written statement. "The shuttle service only stops at locations on campus for the safety of students and drivers."
According to York College's website, students may call safety dispatch at 717-815-1314 if they've been waiting for the shuttle to arrive for longer than 30 minutes — during the shuttle's operating hours. The college also offers a mobile app to help students navigate the shuttle service.
Joshua Landau, the college's associate provost for student success, was asked about the shuttle and safety during a recent visit to a student journalism class.
“I don’t want anyone walking home uncomfortably,” he said, asking everyone if they were familiar with the LiveSafe app. “It’s not a perfect tool, but it is a tool you can use if you don’t feel comfortable. I would encourage people to use it.”
Landau added that school officials are looking into how the shuttle operates.
“I did hear the president say that we’re having trouble getting shuttle drivers," he said, "and that’s a problem.”
You can learn more about the shuttle service and its hours of operations here.
For those who couldn’t attend the town hall, issues such as the shuttle can be raised with an email to the president at email@example.com.
Vaughntay Mcgraw is a junior majoring in biology. Taryn Cook, a sophomore hospitality management major, contributed to this report.