The wheels on the bus

The University of Torontos tricampus model fosters greater course selection, the ability to educate more students, and the fuzzy feeling of superiority from having multiple campuses across the GTA. There is, however, one downside — if downtown students were to commute to UTM by TTC and Mississauga transit, they would have to leave home at least two hours before classes began. Thats why, with such a sprawling community, UTM must have a reliable transportation system in place.

photo/uberfrau2006 via flicr
photo/uberfrau2006 via flicr

Enter our equally loved and hated shuttle bus service, about which an anonymous student once commented: Overall its just a school bus ride, but my friends sometimes complain that the buses dont arrive on time and then sometimes show up two at a time. I also wish they ran more during the summer, or weekends. This patron could easily be speaking for most of us.

There is no disputing however, that the shuttle buses linking UTM to St. George allow for a fairly fast, direct, and environmentally sound travel between the campuses. As winter hails upon us and public transit becomes more difficult, its only fair that we come to appreciate the shuttle buses for what they provide, and accept them despite what they dont.

It is worthy to note that the University does not own the buses — despite their tricked-out appearance — or even hire the drivers; all are provided by a third-party company. While the majority of departures occur during the weekdays, as of last year the shuttle bus service has initiated two departures on Saturday for the purpose of students attending weekend classes.

Other improvements to the service can be expected in the not-toodistant future. As per a new proposal, by Fall 2009 the number of daytime departures would increase from twenty-three to thirty-six, while the number of evening departures would increase from five to nine. The University also plans to increase the number of buses to five.

The bus schedules are of course influenced by the weather, both physical (snowstorms) and political (strikes). In the first case, schedule changes would become available at the service web site (www.utm.utoronto.ca/shuttle). In the second case, the buses would continue to operate as per the current schedule, with only the drop off points changing. This would also be advertised through the service website. One bus driver said she had no complaints with how the bus service operated or how the students behaved.

Asked if she ever experienced nervousness over the weather, she replied, You dont get nervous; you cant get nervous. You just have to do it, like the TTC, every day. My first day was tough. The driving was different. The turns were different. And you have forty people in the back.

Now, if only we could fit in another forty.