Opinion: Difficulty navigating new bus routes frustrates students

Franklin junior Dakota Bradstreet rides the Big Red line on September 27, 2019. Bradstreet said he rides the bus every day.

Emily Davis

The new bus routes on campus are equally confusing and frustrating, as returning students who were accustomed to the old bus routes and their names are finding it difficult to adjust to the new ones.

The changes came about due to budget restrictions, but the revised strategy has been far from satisfactory.

There are several issues that add to this difficulty of adjustment — one being the lack of information from the university itself about these changes.

Students received one email from Parking and Transportation Services about the changes to the bus routes.

This email contained a very brief explanation of the new bus routes and their purpose. In this email, there were also explanations of where the buses traveled from 4 to 9 p.m.

These times are not relevant to the school day, when the buses are typically used by students the most, so this email was not very informative.

A second issue is the inaccuracy of the iWKU app. In this app, students can view an approximate bus schedule of nearest stops that displays the bus route name, the name of the bus stop, the direction the bus is headed after the indicated stop and approximately how long until the next bus arrives at the stop.

While all of this information can be helpful, it is very difficult to plan around the bus schedule with this app. The times listed are not always accurate, and it does not show all of the stops on campus.

Continuously refreshing the app is required to view the most accurate or up to date times and stops. This is also highly inconvenient and not effectively informative.

Other students, especially those returning to campus this fall, have voiced their own frustrations with the alterations, like junior Carli Gambrell.

“Honestly, I was thrown off a bit by the name changes this semester,” Gambrell said. She also added the changes seemed to come suddenly, and it made her hesitant to use the buses the first few weeks back on campus.

Other students have described times they’ve gotten on the wrong bus and rode into town by accident or complained about consistently being late to classes because the buses weren’t on time.

Another source of information for students is the Topper Transit pamphlets located in Downing Student Union at the information desk and on the buses themselves. This pamphlet has bus routes mapped out and lists times the buses run on the inside.

The mapped routes are not entirely clear, and there is nothing to help base your location. There is no map of campus or Bowling Green but instead simply color-coded bus routes.

There is also no map key to explain stops or what all of the abbreviations mean. On the outside of the pamphlet, there is a chart of the three different bus routes with the listed times and an additional brief explanation of the individual service areas.

If confusion remains, the last place to look for clarity is the Parking and Transportation website. The website provides exactly the same information as both the email and the pamphlet with one addition: a points of interest section. This section is literally just the service area section with a few more stops in list format.

PTS’ response to student frustration and confusion has been apologetic about the difficulties students have experienced, and they are actively working through these issues. However, there have been no visible solutions being put in place thus far.

As always, the PTS email, office and phone number are available during office hours to answer any remaining questions or clear up any remaining confusion about not only the new bus routes but the other new PTS changes this year. The PTS email address is [email protected]

The Parking and Transportation office hours are 7:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. They can also be reached by calling 270-745-2361.

Opinion columnist Emily Davis can be reached at emily.davis###@topper. wku.edu.