Management & Operations

Radios silenced on Arizona State shuttle buses

Posted on April 25, 2008

Arizona State University (ASU) students are now enjoying a “quiet ride” on campus shuttle buses after a rather loud controversy involving a driver’s choice of radio stations. The driver, employed by Coach America, the contract operator of eight shuttle buses for ASU, tuned his radio to a station in which the talk-radio host allegedly made racial slurs against Hispanics. 

A student complained about the choice of radio stations, which eventually led Coach America management to ask its drivers not to play the station while they investigated the complaint. A few days later, Coach America implemented a “quiet ride” policy that requires drivers to keep the radio turned off. “We support the privilege for our passengers to listen privately to the media content of their choice,” Kristin Martinez, Coach America’s general manager in Phoenix, said in a press release.  

Theresa Fletcher, ASU’s director of parking and transit services, said the university steers clear of advising its contractor on policies such as choice of radio stations. “When Coach America asked, we threw it back at them and told them that it’s their decision,” she said. “It was really an operational matter for Coach America.” But Fletcher added that it’s fairly common for students to complain about radio content or volume. “It’s too loud, too soft or they don’t like the music,” she said. “We’ve never had a serious complaint until now, and we didn’t expect this complaint to escalate to the degree that it did.” Fletcher’s referring to the media coverage of the incident. Newspaper and TV reporters latched on to the story, and the radio station involved in the controversy, KTAR, also fanned the flames. 

“The radio station got a week’s worth of attention over this,” Fletcher said. Now that the situation has been resolved, Fletcher said the real losers are the drivers, who can no longer listen to their radios. “The intent of Coach America in allowing drivers to listen to the radio was to make their shifts easier and more comfortable,” she said.

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