Lesley’s campus is big for the relatively small population that inhabits it. The campus spans a mile of Massachusetts Avenue, meaning if a student were to walk from the Brattle campus to the Porter campus, it could take anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five minutes. For the students who sometimes can’t, or don’t want to, make that walk, they take the Lesley shuttle. Many people, especially Brattle residents, rely on the shuttle system to get them to class. When there are problems with the system, it creates more than a minor inconvenience. Issues with the reliability, communication, and professionalism of the Lesley shuttle service have driven a lot of students to become frustrated.
Most students know they can refer to the set shuttle schedule on the Lesley website, but they cannot always rely on this schedule. A person could go out to get the shuttle five minutes early, and wait for twenty minutes before realizing the shuttle is not coming. Or worse, they could go out five minutes early and see the shuttle pulling away because the driver saw that no on was waiting and decided to leave. Students need to be able to rely on this schedule for their everyday lives.
The unreliability of the shuttles is frustrating to a lot of students, but it is more than a frustration when it becomes a safety problem. Samantha Barry is a student who lives on the Doble campus, but she frequently spends her evenings at the Brattle Campus doing homework with friends. She has experienced the unreliability of the shuttles, and is aware of the safety issue it causes. “If I were to walk back every night, I’m not walking through a campus, I’m walking in the middle of a city. The shuttle is scheduled to leave at 11:05, but the problem is, it usually doesn’t. It will either not show up, or it will come way before 11:05, realize no one’s out there waiting, and just leave. Then I’m stuck, on a campus I don’t live on, in the middle of the night.”
Students understand that life happens, and the shuttle can run into delays. However, if there is a last minute change to the schedule, or a reason the shuttles may be running late on a certain day, there is no communication between public safety and the students. Sometimes a driver calls out of work for the day, so there is only one van going around campus. Since there are only two shuttles running at a time, this causes major delays. If students knew at the beginning of the day that there were going to be delays, they could easily plan around it. However, students don’t find out about scheduling issues unless they call public safety for updates about the shuttles. By the time they do this, the students are already running late for their classes. There are dozens of other reasons why the shuttle could be experiencing delays, but for each instance there is still no communication from public safety to the students. An easy fix would be an email blast in the morning. If public safety knows the shuttle is going to experience problems that day– from being down a worker, or a flat tire, or any other issue– they need to relay the information to the users of the shuttles, the students.
The shuttle system is a service provided by public safety to the students and faculty of Lesley; it should be run professionally. Most of the public safety workers are pleasant and hardworking people; however there have been horror stories from the students about the public safety office concerning the shuttle. Gabby Johnson had an experience like this. She remembers calling public safety one morning last semester when the shuttle was late, “They kept saying ‘it will be there in five minutes,’ but then another twenty passed.” She claims “We waited for 30 minutes, and then when we called public safety, they kept hanging up on us. They finally showed up when I told them there were two people on crutches who couldn’t get to their classes without the shuttle.” Gabby and others who were affected felt that public safety’s lack of responsiveness was not professional, and not respectful to the students who were stuck in this situation.
This may just seem like an annoyed student complaining about how they have to walk to class instead of hitching a ride on the shuttle, but the shuttle system is a service that the students have the right to rely on and trust. Besides preventing students from being late for class, the shuttle system is in place to get people to their destinations on campus safely, especially when they do not have the option of walking themselves to class or when it is later in the evening. In order for students to gain trust in the shuttles, the drivers need to follow the schedule; there should be communication between the shuttles and the students; and public safety must have a manner of professionalism when dealing with problems that arise with the shuttle.