After a long and replenishing break, I expected that a few things would change at UCI, except for one: the convenient A Line of the Anteater Express bus, which had its first stop close to my house. Without that line, I would have to take either the C, N or H Lines — which are far from my residence — and be fortunate enough not to get a overcrowded bus. To my misfortune, on the very first day of class, I went to the A Line stop, but the time when I needed it the most, it had just vanished.
Once I resigned my hopes for the A Line’s return, I had to submit myself to the remaining lines. The only way to describe the current Anteater Bus experience is to compare it to anchovies in a can, several individuals tightly packed in a metal box that is waiting to be consumed by a person, or in our case, by the university. This description is somewhat cynical as it ignores the real reason why the buses are overcrowded and why my dearest A Line was discontinued.
According to Annie Downey, the assistant operation manager of the Anteater Express, the A Line was deactivated because the new electrical buses ordered — that are yet to arrive — by the university are not able to enter the roundabouts located at Arroyo Vista (AV) and near the ARC due to their bigger size. However, this reason is not sufficient to take out a line that is vital for the hundreds of students living at Camino del Sol and Arroyo Vista.
The Anteater Express has readjusted the lines in order to cater to the constant demand for buses. On its web page, there is a list of alternatives to the A Line like the C Line, which has two stops in the area, one of which was relocated for the convenience of AV’s residents, and N and M Lines each having one stop.
Moreover, a third bus was added to the C Line, and in the V Line, the three stops near VDC parking were merged into two.
Regardless of the efforts made by Anteater Express to reduce the grievances introduced by those changes, the frequency of overcrowded buses is higher than that of previous years, and the overall length of their routes has also increased. Therefore, their traveling time has almost doubled.
Downey’s later statements shed some light on this murky issue; she said that the order of electrical buses was delayed by the manufacturer BYD Co. Ltd. due to production problems. UCI expected the shipment of 20 buses in summer 2017, but the order was delayed until November when the buses are expected to start arriving periodically.
“We started adjusting our routes for the summer shipment,” she added. With the bigger fuel-efficient buses it was logical to modify and eliminate some routes. An unexpected delay in the shipment disorganized the routes, thus creating the need to rearrange the lines in a short period of time.
The Anteater Express workers acknowledge the complaints of student riders and are working to amend these problems. As Downey said, “this only is a transition period” and that “during winter quarter there is going to be a substantial decrease on overcrowding cases.”
It is not a secret that bus overcrowding is a problem and that it is inopportune for the students who use them regularly; after all, we are paying for that service. For this reason the Anteater Express is constantly working to improve its service.
There are multiple ways in which students can cope with this problem: walk (which is my favorite because I get to exercise), bike, share a car with a friend or commute early to the campus if you do not like overcrowded buses. We must understand that “this is just a phase.”
Sebastian Suarez is a fourth-year political science major. He can be reach at email@example.com