University

Storms create university transit staffing issues

Posted on February 9, 2009

Recent winter storms across many parts of the U.S. have created operational challenges for university transit systems. One the key difficulties is finding enough drivers to cover routes, especially during severe weather such as a snowstorm.

Part of the problem is that many colleges and universities hire students to drive campus buses. Some schools, such as the University of Connecticut, do not classify student workers as “essential/emergency support employees” and thus cannot require them to work during weather emergencies.

“Yet the university still expects full bus service, or some semblance thereof, during all weather conditions,” said Janet Freniere, transportation services administrator at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Even when classes are canceled due to inclement weather, the university provides bus service, she said.

Freniere said 90 percent of her bus drivers are students, causing concerns about covering routes during bad weather. “Luckily, a lot of them stay or come in anyway,” she said. But Freniere is considering hiring more non-student drivers, figuring that will lead to “a lot fewer headaches.”

At Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington, the campus bus service covers most of its day routes from Monday through Friday with full-time, non-student drivers. Part-time student drivers help to cover evenings and weekend service.

Kent McDaniel, executive director of IU’s Transportation Services, said he cannot require his drivers to work at any time. “But we can expect them to show up for the work assignments they have committed to work and can discipline them for failing to show up,” he said.

“We are sympathetic when the weather is a big factor,” McDaniel added. During a recent snowstorm, Indiana University took the rare measure of shutting down, but maintained as much bus service as it could.

“We had pretty good cooperation from our drivers,” McDaniel said. “Our drivers are considered emergency/essential employees, but all that really means is that they get special IDs so they won’t be arrested for driving to work during weather emergencies.”

At the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in Durham, student bus drivers are up to the challenge of driving in inclement weather. “However, if the situation requires, we might replace an inexperienced driver with one who has more miles under his or her belt,” said Marc Laliberte, transportation operations manager for University Transportation Services.

Making things a bit less complicated, when UNH cancels or curtails classes, it does the same with its bus service. “Our bus service will start earlier and end later than the posted curtailment/cancellation, but ultimately it will shut down as well,” Laliberte said.

 

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

MBTA chairman wants to explore university pass program

Under the plan, schools would provide every student with a pass, potentially making up the cost by charging for the monthly pass as part of students’ tuition and fees.

Transit app to make Chicago campus travel more efficient

8-Ride is a campus van service provided by MV Transportation in which students can call for a ride to a destination within the outlined boundaries.

MIT students win first round of SpaceX Hyperloop contest

Beating out a field of more than 100 other teams from around the world, the group of MIT graduate students won the best overall design award for a vehicle, or pod, that will ride inside the Hyperloop, a system of tubes connecting major cities.

U. of Nebraska-Lincoln policy prohibits electronic device use while driving

New distracted driving policy prohibits drivers from “creating, sending or reviewing text messages or email, accessing the Internet for any purpose, electronic gaming and reading any printed material on an electronic device or in paper form while operating a university motor vehicle.

Seattle's rail extension to U. of Washington opening in March

Will open ahead of schedule and more than $150 million under budget. Finalizing the launch of U Link includes finishing staff training and acquiring safety certification from the FTA.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close