UC Irvine Student Government Plans to Change Course of Daily Commute

Ginny Wang | Staff Photographer

Ginny Wang | Staff Photographer
The shuttle system, which has grown due to an influx of students living on campus, is expected to add four additional busses by 2010.

A total of 13 additional busses were purchased over the 2007-08 academic year by the Associated Students of UC Irvine to meet the needs of campus transportation, utilizing a budget of roughly $1 million to operate the ASUCI shuttle system. However, members of the UCI community have conflicting views on whether or not the campus’ transportation system is being run effectively.
According to Tim Rudek, the director of ASUCI Shuttle Services, the campus bus system has successfully grown in size to account for the influx of students living on campus.
“The ASUCI bus fleet has increased dramatically in the past four years to meet the goals of student housing,” Rudek said.
Although many students agree with Rudek, Gaby Gutierrez, a fourth-year drama major, believes that other issues of transportation must be addressed.
“It has definitely improved since I was a freshman … but [the buses] don’t come as often as I would like,” Gutierrez said.
Marcus Pence, a shuttle driver and a fourth-year biological sciences major, can attest to the crowding felt during hours when shuttles are utilized the most.
“The shuttle systems are very crowded at peak times and a handful of students have to wait for the next bus,” Pence said.
According to Pence, this experience is most prevalent at the Arroyo Vista, Vista del Campo and Vista del Campo Norte routes.
Students have found that off-campus busses have similar, if not worse problems. Zack Isaacson, a fourth-year economics major, emphasized the unreliable schedule of the bus he takes to and from school.
“The Newport Shuttle is rarely on time and can be hard to catch during the day,” Isaacson said.
Rudek made clear that Shuttle Services have acknowledged the inconvenience of the Newport Shuttle as an issue and said that the service is actively seeking solutions. Unfortunately, securing the appropriate funding can be a lengthy process.
One possible solution to the scheduling problem may be the planned expansion. Rudek stated that the shuttle system’s development coincides with the plans and growth of the student housing complexes.
UCI Student Housing plans to meet its goal of housing 45 percent of all undergraduate students by 2010, which would require four additional busses. Similarly, phase four of East Campus Housing, when completed, would require four busses as well.
ASUCI transportation and parking services also have a contractual agreement with the Orange County Transportation Authority in order to facilitate the Newport Beach Peninsula shuttle. Through this agreement, ASUCI is allowed three 40-foot transit busses, keeping one as a back-up bus.
The agreement has a planned ending date of June 30, 2008, after which ASUCI will purchase four Bluebird busses. Soon after these busses are purchased, plans to convert the vehicles to run entirely on bio-fuel will be set in motion.
According to Rudek, with the expansion of the system comes an expected increase in budget. Rudek anticipates additional finances on the basis of this expansion as well as rising fuel costs.
Surprisingly, proposed additions to the shuttle system have been accepted with positive feedback from the student body. Pence shared that one reason for this reaction may be due to students understanding that more busses are needed.
“The number of shuttles is necessary, especially for a speedy transportation system,” Pence said.
Isaacson, an avid Newport shuttle traveler, agreed with Pence in expanding the shuttle system, even if it means that students would have to pay a little more.
“The costs are definitely worth it because it gives people without cars an option to live off of campus,” Isaacson said.
If Rudek’s predictions come to pass, students may expect to see an increase in both the number and dependability of the shuttle system at UCI as ASUCI Shuttle Services will continue working toward improvements.