PACE bus replaces university shuttle
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 16:09
This summer, Roosevelt University suspended its shuttle service to the Schaumburg campus.
According to data from the university’s physical resources department, ridership of the shuttle service declined over the past five years, and the service cost $200,000 annually.
“During the tight financial times the University has been experiencing, it made no sense to spend such a large amount of money on such a small number of students and faculty members,” Schaumburg Campus Provost Doug Knerr said.
Knerr stressed that the importance of the shuttle for those students and faculty members is not to be diminished, but the majority had to be taken into consideration when administering budget cuts.
“We need to be very careful on how we use our money, and as provosts, we have to make those tough decisions,” Provost James Gandre said.
Gandre noted that if $200,000 were cut from courses, it would be the equivalent of 50 course sections. The University’s shuttle took students directly from the Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line Rosemont stop to the Schaumburg campus. At the beginning of the fall semester, students and faculty members who travel between campuses were informed via email that free PACE bus passes (with various travel options) would be offered in the shuttle’s replacement.
“There are less than 50 students with dual registration,” Knerr said. “So far, not everyone has picked up a pass.”
In addition to PACE buses, the Village of Schaumburg offers a free shuttle from the University’s Schaumburg campus to the PACE Northwest Transportation Center so students do not have to walk from the center to campus.
“The fact that the village is willing to provide the shuttle for free shows that our beliefs are in concert with theirs,” Knerr said.
“We all liked our shuttle service, but in an era of tough budgetary decisions, spending that amount of money to serve only a few didn’t seem like the wisest choice to us or the university’s Planning and Budget Committee,” Gandre said.
The university spent $1000 on PACE passes for the current semester or half of one percent of the shuttle’s costs.
“We tried to find something as close to what we had as possible,” Gandre said. “We understand there are some drawbacks, but there are pluses, as well.”
“The shuttle service’s travel time would depend on whether there was a backup on the interstate or during what time of day it was running,” Knerr said. “The PACE service is far more frequent than the shuttle service was. Students can get to campus most of the time sooner than they would otherwise.”
Graduate psychology student, Elise Simon, enrolled in classes at both campuses. She said she had to pay for PACE bus services when commuting to her summer classes and said the university informed her that she would be reimbursed for the cost, but has yet to see a reimbursement.
“PACE punch cards only have 10 rides on them,” Simon said. “Each time I get on the bus, it’s a punch out of my card. So, every 5 times I go to the Schaumburg campus, I have to go back to the CSI office and get a new punch card.”
She also noted that she was once an hour late to class because of waiting on a PACE bus.
“Before, with the shuttle, I knew what time I had to leave,” she said. “It was reliable. The shuttle would leave the Rosemont station at 5:15 p.m., and I would get to school in enough time to grab dinner at the cafeteria. Now, I’m walking into classes late and missing out.”
Roosevelt undergraduate Angie Briese used to commute between campuses. She utilized the University’s shuttle service in previous years and is dissatisfied with the PACE system.
“I was forced to give up taking a class with my favorite professor because the two and a half hour commute to the other campus each way is not worth the three hour class,” she said. “A five hour commute versus a three hour class is absolutely ridiculous.”
Briese stressed the travel time, waiting time outside in soon-to-be-cooler weather and potential danger of transferring buses as major cons to the service.
“I would like to invite President Middleton to ride the Blue Line to Rosemont, then wait there for Pace number 606 and take it to Woodfield Mall, only to wait there for Pace 696 to pick you up and take you to the Schaumburg campus and then back to the Chicago campus,” she said.
The university said it would continue to explore other more efficient methods travel as they become available. If Schaumburg makes changes to its village transportation services, the university will advocate improvements that will benefit students, according to Gandre.
To further explain why the shuttle service was cancelled, Gandre explained that private institutions receive money through fundraising, tuition and nonprofit gifts from board members and alumni. When the number of students declines, income for the university declines.
“Because of the state of the economy, people have been delaying going to college or going part time,” he said. “With a few people in every community doing this, there are enrollment issues in institutions like ours. Because of this, we have to make budget cuts.”