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New Mills van schedule causes student upset

A number of Mills students are finding themselves inconvenienced
by the adjustments made to the Mills Van schedule.

“The question is how can we make the van sustainable for
students and have it run more often, especially during peak hours
to get to internships, jobs, the Tang Medical center and on
weekends to get to events or the Cal [Berkeley] library or BART,”
said senior Redwood Mary.

The adjustments made were an attempt to find a solution to this
question. A committee made up of representatives from the
departments of student life, housing management, dining services
and public safety reviewed the Mills Van rider-ship survey from
last school year.

Most of the changes that occurred were in the number of runs and
what times they would be available. Last year, there were twelve
runs available, leaving Mills approximately every 70 minutes from
7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. This year, there are ten runs available,
leaving Mills approximately every 95 minutes from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30

Other changes that occurred were that the Saturday schedule had
been shortened to 11:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. leaving Mills. Sundays
have been reduced to one run which leaves Mills at 2:05 p.m. and
leaves Berkeley at 2:35 p.m.

One addition that was made to the services of the Mills Van is a
free local commuter service, routing the van down MacArthur
Boulevard from Mills College to 35th Avenue. This service was added
for students to better access grocery stores, coffee shops and
other commercial venues. This service is available after Berkeley
commuters are seated and if space is available.

Director of public safety Steven King, sent a memo to the Mills
community via e-mail in late August regarding these changes, as
well as who and what were the factors in the decision making
process. However, students like senior Lindsay Cooper still felt
ill informed on the issue.

“I am here an extra hour in the morning and an extra hour in the
evening. Limited runs make it difficult to be a commuter student.
Where did they get the idea that it wasn’t necessary to have
extended routes?” said Cooper.

King had several reasons why the adjustments were made. The main
reason is that according to the survey that was taken last year,
many of the van runs were only used by one or two students. In the
interest of efficiency not only for time, but also for budgetary
reasons, the adjustments had to be made.

King said, “Look at AC transit and BART. These are changes that
need to be made in this time.”

King also said that the drivers were working on extremely tight
schedules that barely allowed time for a lunch break. By reducing
the turnaround increments, the driver will have a much more
comfortable work schedule, that is conducive to labor laws and
workers’ rights.

Nonetheless, students are not happy with the adjustments.
Graduate student Katie Swenson said, “I am here four days a week
and I have to use the Mills Van to get here. I hate it [the new

Senior Redwood Mary said, “I would be willing to pay up to an
extra $25 in student fees…” in order to make the van run more
efficiently for students.

Senior Maya McCray agrees that it would be worth it to pay extra
student fees, not only to get more run times, but also to get more
stops as well.

“As a commuter student from Oakland, it would be useful for me
and other Oakland commuters to have a stop at 12th Street BART or
somewhere near the Lake Merritt area.”

Despite the students who are interested in having a voice in
Mills Van revisions, King feels that these students are a minority.
“A lot of riders are happy with the schedule according to the
drivers,” said King.

In response to those who do feel that the Mills Van is still
being run inefficiently despite the recent adjustments King said,
“There is no one system that meets everyone’s needs for a semester.
If the van is not meeting the needs of the students, do let me