SGA test-runs shuttle service

With President David Greene’s inspiring leadership, administration and student organizations have been working toward continuing and rebuilding the relationship between the Colby community and the city of Waterville. Greene has worked with the College’s Student Government Association (SGA) to plan a Waterville shuttle service that would help serve student transportation needs and also strengthen the bond between Colby and Waterville.

“[The shuttle service] would not only improve the relationship between Colby and the local community, but it also would help invigorate local businesses by providing transportation to more potential customers (Colby students),” SGA President Justin Deckert ’15 said. “At the beginning of the year, we were talking about why people don’t feel as connected with the Waterville community, and one of the major things we heard about was that it is an access problem, especially if you don’t have a car on campus,” he said.

Though the College offers the Jitney Service seven days a week, many students have identified it as an unpredictable and inconvenient form of transportation. “The Jitney service works like a taxi; you call and wait. But, to be honest it’s pretty unreliable and doesn’t solve this access problem,” Deckert said. “Many other colleges and universities have a shuttle for students to get students where they need to go, so we started to wonder if this was possible to have here in Waterville….If you think about it, everything is just slightly out of walking distance, especially in the winter months, but very much easily accessible with transportation….Outside of Bangor and Portland, there is no public transportation in Maine,” he added.

SGA has been working closely with President of the Waterville Main Street Association Jen Olsen and Colby’s Director of Planning Brian Clarke to develop a shuttle service that would serve the needs of the College’s students. “The shuttle would run in conjunction with the existing Jitney services but will run on a set schedule with set pick up/drop off locations,” Deckert said. “The Jitney won’t be replaced, but it will definitely start a much needed conversation about the purpose of the Jitney and whether or not it is serving that purpose,” Deckert said.

Earlier this month, SGA sent out a survey to collect information on the times, days, and routes that best suits students’ needs. “We got about 500 responses detailing ideal locations, times of day people would use the shuttle, and why they would use it. A lot of people were really receptive to the idea, and we got a lot of great feedback,” Deckert said. They are looking to obtain a “vehicle … larger than a sprinter van, but smaller than a school bus. Maybe a mini bus,” Deckert said.

Though the shuttle service will not begin this academic year, SGA and Campus Life are looking to launch a pilot program to test the shuttle. Ideally, the pilot program will start before the end of the year—maybe March or April—and last for around three weeks. After that, we are hoping to get as much feedback as possible, so that we can analyze people’s responses and use the information to work on a more long term solution,” Deckert said.

SGA has also discussed concerns over the potential misuses of the shuttle service. “I think there are definite concerns about student safety,” Deckert explained. “We don’t want it to become a party bus to just bring people back and forth to bars, or to become something that may threaten the safety of students whether on campus or downtown. We are just interested in seeing what it may turn into. What purpose it will serve, and how it will impact Colby life within Waterville,” Deckert said.

Comments are closed.