The Mills College shuttle schedule, finalized only days before the Fall 2015 semester began, has left students frustrated over the sudden changes in shuttle stops – five locations instead of four – and round trip time that they were unable to prepare for.
The new route now stops in Lakeshore instead of Rockridge and goes to MacArthur Bart every day, not only on weekends. This new route requires that the shuttle backtrack from Lakeshore to the MacArthur bart which increases the round trip from one hour to between an hour and a half and two hours.
Many Mills students pointed out on Facebook that several AC Transit options, including the NL, 57 and 58L bus lines, go straight to Lakeshore.
The suggestion to change the shuttle schedule came in the fall of 2013 when a graduate student submitted her final paper to the Transportation Committee. In the fall of 2014, the committee did a survey and the results were the basis for changing the schedule.
Chair of student services committee Katie Laackman said that the decision to stop at the MacArthur BART was made with commuter students in mind since every major BART line goes through MacArthur.
Junior Anna Cornelius thinks the MacArthur stop will help students with their commute.
“MacArthur [BART] is a place that reaches a greater population,” Cornelius said. “To my understanding, less students live near Rockridge than in west and north Oakland, which MacArthur is central to.”
Similarly, the change to Lakeshore was to appeal to a wider audience of students.
Linda Zitzner, Co-Chair of Sustainability and Associate Vice President of Operations, says that Lakeshore provides a place with more options for students to go to – affordable food, night life and close proximity to other conveniences.
According to Zitzner’s memory, roughly 70 percent of those surveyed preferred a Lakeshore stop over Rockridge.
The Transportation Committee asked that Laackman gauge student responses to the potential shuttle change. After holding four sets of publicized office hours in November, Laackman said she got several strong responses for and against changing the schedule. However, she was not given any overwhelming reason for the schedule to be kept the way it was and ASMC approved the change not long after.
This new route is longer than before and to accommodate drivers’ breaks and lunch hour, the shuttle runs are less frequent. Zitzner also said the decision to have fewer runs was not the result of changes in finances.
A large part of students frustration is from the lack of communication about the changes.
“There was no real indication that they were changing anything,” senior Nora Roth said. “I realize that their goal was to make it better, but it just doesn’t seem like it was thought through.”
Roth said she started checking online for the schedule a week before schoo
l started. The day before classes began, the schedule still had not been posted. The schedule was officially put online in the middle of the day on the first day of classes.
“[It was] kind of a big slip up to not notify students via email,” Roth said.
Zitzner acknowledged that the information should have been put on the website earlier and there should have been a clear email stating the changes to students.
Many of the students who are finding the new shuttle schedule inhibiting are cross registered at University of California Berkeley and rely on the shuttle as their means of transportation between the two campuses.
Currently Roth is cross registered at UC Berkeley in a class that ends at 7pm. The lack of an early evening shuttle she must wait until 9pm or find another way back to Mills.
“It feels like Mills should be helping us take advantage of this opportunity, but instead the new schedule feels like another road block,” Roth said.
Senior Deellan Kashani, said that times between shuttle runs are now longer than the time it would take to travel from UC Berkeley to Mills on two to three different busses.
“I’m cross-registered at Cal, and I’m commuting from Berkeley every day, and my options for transportation are so limited,” Kashani said in an email. “This added Lakeshore roundabout is super unnecessary.”
ASMC is crafting a survey for students that will be online and a comment box inside the shuttle to try and resolve the frustration.
According to Zitzner the schedule can be changed back to the way it was. However, if students choose to do that there will not be support from the transportation committee to change it back again.