University administrators consider implementing shuttle system

Christopher Walker, Editor-in-Chief

For University of New Orleans students living on campus without a car, the task of getting essential, everyday items can create a real headache many students with access to transportation are unfamiliar with. A five-minute car ride to Rouses, something many students take without second thought, can create a serious inconvenience to these students.

UNO has a dense population of foreign students without access to transportation, and more often than not, these foreign students form friendships with other foreign students, none of whom have access to transportation. This turns buying groceries, laundry items, and other essential everyday items into a hassle.

That is why the university administrators are seriously considering implementing a shuttle system that will take students from campus and bring them to neighboring grocery and general-needs stores.

Tulane University, Louisiana State University, and Loyola University currently have similar systems that bring students to nearby commercial stores. Tulane has multiple shuttle lines that take students from campus, to the neighboring Walmart, Fresh Market, and even Elmwood and Clearview shopping centers.

Dean of Students Brett Kemker is working to get the shuttle system in place. The project has been in development for some time, but university administration has been making headway recently. “We are always looking to meet the needs of our student body, and this is certainly one that has been brought to our attention.”

Kemker said the shuttle will be completely free for university students and will focus on the immediate, pressing needs of students without cars. Although many students are hoping for a shuttle that will also bring students to local nightlife hotspots, Kemker said that the immediate goal of the program is to bring students to essential locations.

“I am not currently aware of any plans for our shuttle program to take students to nightlife areas, but I do know that many students have an immediate need for access to groceries and dried goods, like those at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. And this will be a very valuable program for that subpopulation.”

The program, if implemented, will certainly be an appealing draw for students who know a personal transportation vehicle is out of the question for their college years.
In regard to when students could realistically expect the program to be in place, Dr. Kemker said “We are looking into how much it would cost at this point, the university has not purchased a vehicle just yet. But looking at costs, and weighing the pros and cons of such a system,  we are acutely aware of the value and the need for it. And if the numbers add up, I don’t think it’s going to be too far down the road. It looks to be a solid return on investment.”