Tucked away in beautiful Flagstaff, Ariz., Northern Arizona University (NAU) prides itself as being built on a student-first foundation. As part of that, the university provides campus shuttle service to help students, faculty, and staff get around campus, while also looking to minimize the amount of driving and traffic that often occurs around a university campus.
“We have a fleet of 23 buses,” explains Judy Manor, sr. program coordinator, NAU parking and shuttle services. “During the weekday peak hours, we have seven buses on two campus routes and average approximately 12,000 passengers per day.”
The shuttle system also works closely with the local transit agency, Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (NAIPTA), which serves the university on campus with its Mountain Line.
“NAIPTA traverses our campus from north to south along the transit spine and we share bus stops along the route,” explains Manor. “Their service allows transit from off campus locations and averages 4,500 [riders] per weekday.”
Employees are able to use both services by acquiring an ecoPASS.
“Parking and Shuttle Services partners with NAIPTA to purchase a bus pass for every campus employee,” Manor says. “The bus pass is valid for the entire city of Flagstaff bus system and is issued at no cost to the employee.”
The ecoPASS also gives employees free access to the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which allows those who commute to work using their ecoPASS to use a taxi for emergencies at no charge. The ride is paid for by NAIPTA.
In addition to recently installing automatic passenger counters on its vehicles, which interface with the shuttle system’s GPS service and provides information to riders if a bus is full, NAU also recently took delivery of its second Spirit of Liberty bus from ARBOC Specialty Vehicles.
“NAU was our first retail customer to buy this model, as well as our first repeat customer,” explains Kim Yoder, regional manager at ARBOC. “What they are using the Spirit of Liberty for, which is basically campus shuttle, is exactly what this bus was intended for.”
Manor says the university tapped the ARBOC’s vehicle because they were looking for a transit-style, low-floor bus that would be easier to board from curb height. She adds that NAU’s experience with the bus has been positive.
“Drivers say that it is very comfortable to drive and it has great visibility, the disc brakes are quiet and responsive, and the low floor makes it very easy to load passengers who are elderly or disabled,” says Manor. “It also has a great turning radius, and passengers comment on having more room.”