10_4_19_bus_KFrazier_074 copy.jpg

WKU students use the public transit buses to get to their destinations.

Parking and Transportation Services announced in a press release earlier this week the changes to Topper Transit for the fall semester in an effort to increase public safety and social distancing.

Jennifer Tougas, director of Parking and Transportation, said that crowded buses can create an environment where the virus can spread easily. “The biggest reason for the changes was for us to try to reduce the number of passengers,” Tougas said.

The department announced the following safety measures will be implemented to help reduce risks to COVID-19 for passengers and drivers on transit vehicles.

The new transit routes will prioritize getting students to campus rather than circulating students on campus. 

The College Heights Route will go from South Campus to the Main Campus from Monday through Thursday from 7:15 a.m. through 9:00 p.m. Then on Fridays from 7:15 a.m. through 6:00 p.m. The route will reach Campus Evolution Villages, Parking Structure 1 and 3, Valley Residents, Cherry Hall, Downing Student Union, and Douglas Keen Hall.

WKU Spirit Route will go from Parking Structure 3 to the Main Campus transit service from Monday through Thursday from 7:15 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. Then Friday at 7:15 a.m. through 6:00 p.m. This route will reach Russellville Road West Lot, Jones Jagger Hall, University Boulevard Lot, Chestnut Street, Park Street Lot, Cherry Hall, the Valley, Kentucky Street, and the Columns area. 

The Shopping Shuttle will open on Saturdays from 4:00 p.m. from 8:30 p.m. This shuttle route will operate its normal route to College High Hall, Grise Hall, and Jody Richards Hall bus stops on Saturdays.

The evening on-demand service, Topper Taxi, will service the Main and South Campus. The service hours will be from Sunday 6:00 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Fridays from 6:00 p.m. to 9:p.m.

Tougas said the route changes came after they decided to prioritize transporting students to campus rather than having buses circulate on campus. “For the most part, we have a pretty walkable campus, so if we can get students to campus then you can walk, ride your bike, or something like that to get around campus,” Tougas said.

The busiest bus stops on Normal and State Street will be closed during the week, including Gary Ransdell Hall, Helm Library, Environmental Science and Technology Building, College High Hall, Grise Hall, and Jody Richards Hall.  

In an effort to protect drivers, plexiglass shields have been installed in the driver’s cockpit. Chains have been installed to keep passengers 6 feet apart.

Passengers will be required to wear face masks and will enter and exit through the rear door. Markers will also be on board to assist with keeping passengers six feet apart.

Lastly, all transit buses will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected each day.

Tougas encourages students to check their website for any more updates on Parking and Transportation services and to check for an upcoming video within the next week about the measures they are taking to protect students and bus drivers. 

For information on Topper transit routes go to their WKU website.

Gabrielle Bunton is a news/features reporter for the College Heights Herald. She previously covered Campus organizations get ready to meet students and COVID guidelines this fall.