Student shuttle service becoming less popular

Waynesburg University’s Student Services has offered a free shuttle service, called the Loop, since 2014. The shuttle runs most Tuesdays and Thursdays, while school is in session, to a variety of stores in Waynesburg for students who do not have access to a car; however, in recent years the service has become less popular.

“[When] we started this in 2014 … we had 172 people in the fall and 154 in the spring,” said Interim Dean of Students Pat Bristor.

She explained how the service was successful at first but the number of students started to slowly decrease with each succeeding year.

The amount of students who utilized the service in the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016 was reported to be 177 and 99 students. The next school year, those numbers changed to 149 and 118. By the fall of 2017, the numbers had dropped to 78 students, and in 2018, only 17 students used the service in the fall.

This was when Bristor knew something needed to change. 

“Last fall, fall of 2018, very few people used the loop, and it just financially was not wise for us to offer the service,” she said. “So, we switched it from Tuesday/Thursday to Wednesday.”

Once the switch was made, the amount of students who utilized the service rose to 36. 

“This Fall, we went back to Tuesday/Thursday, and this semester we’re still on Tuesday/Thursday,” Bristor said.

Even though Student Services switched the service back to Tuesdays and Thursdays, the amount of students utilizing the service went up to 85 students for the fall of 2019.  

Rebecca Heilmann, senior psychology major and one of the student Loop drivers, noticed this increase in usage from last year. She attributed cars to the reason people don’t use the Loop service.

“The biggest factor in the lack of students using the Loop, I believe, is the number of vehicles on campus and those without cars befriending those that do,” she said.

Freshmen are not permitted to have cars on campus unless there is a special circumstance. 

“The majority of students utilizing the loop are freshmen without cars. This semester has had two to three students, last year had four or five on average [per week],” said Heilmann.

Even though the usage fluctuates and the popularity of the service is decreasing, Bristor said the service will still be available in future years, as there’s still a need for it. 

“We don’t permit freshman to have cars on campus, and it’s too far to walk,” she said.

Heilmann explained that the Loop is not just for students that need to go to the store.

“Many students utilize the kitchens in their dorms, some, in order to get food, require transportation. The Loop is also an option for students who seek to go to urgent care,” Heilmann said. 

There might be some more changes in upcoming years.

“I am considering, after spring break, offering a Saturday, I just don’t know what time to do that yet,” Bristor said. 

In the time being, the Loop service will continue to run Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:40 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:20 p.m.