Students voice concerns after HART bus routes change

By Nadaa Hussein, Staff Writer
On October 25, 2017

SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

She moved off campus, searching to make sure the apartment had a bus stop nearby that would allow her to get to campus on time for class each day. However, since moving in, that’s changed.

The recent changes to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) bus routes, have left students scrambling to find alternate transportation. The changes went into effect  Oct. 8 when HART implemented a new bus system. Meanwhile, the university is asking whether the Bull Runner could extend to these abandoned stops.

Christina Allan, a resident at one of impacted apartments and a junior majoring in chemical engineering, was angered at the change. 

“It’s actually been really difficult commuting to campus since I don’t have a car,” Allan said. “I have to rely on a carpool this semester, but I can’t guarantee it’ll be around forever you know? The only reason I moved so far from campus was because the bus route was right in front of my complex.”

This has led to routes that travel between campus and some apartments such as Campus Lodge, The Social and Reflections have been re-routed and left some students with no way to get on campus for classes.

“Now it’s gone and I have limited means to get to campus,” Allen said. “It’s impacted a lot of students at my apartment complex and others, particularly lower income residents who depend on the bus to get around. I used to take the bus to get to my work, school and do errands like grocery shopping, but now I have to rely on carpooling or Uber.”

Kendal Terry, a sophomore majoring in engineering, voiced her frustration with the new routes.

“A lot these students who do depend on the HART really need it,” Terry said. “To be dropped off somewhere else instead of on campus like they should be, is just going to increase their commute times and make it harder to get to class. Students who work and have jobs don’t have that extra time.” 

Tahir Montgomery, a freshman majoring in engineering, also has been forced to lengthen his commute due to the changes.

“Before the HART bus would come almost right next to my dorm,” Montgomery said. “Now if I have to go somewhere the Bull Runner doesn’t go, I have to walk further to get to a HART bus stop.”

Student Body President Moneer Kheireddine reassures students that USF is trying to remedy the situation, but students must be patient.

“From my understanding and my communication with Parking and Transportation Services while the service will disrupt certain students’ abilities to kind if traverse the campus,” Kheireddine said. “There are still going to be routes that are available that aren’t directly on campus but around campus. Students for right now will have to work with that as Parking and Transportation Services tries their best to fit this new bus loop area into their program.”

Aaron Nichols, the Assistant Director of Communications at USF, said the Bull Runner is monitoring its ridership since the HART changes and will respond to any changes accordingly. 

“The USF Bull Runner is, and has been, closely monitoring ridership levels since HART implemented planned route changes on Oct. 8,” he said. “The Bull Runner is dedicated to maintaining our service level commitment to USF students and employees. So far, we have not seen any significant increases in Bull Runner ridership resulting from the HART route changes.”

If levels do change, Kheireddine said new Bull Runner routes might be created to service these areas.

“As time goes on and we see how it impacts our student body, Parking and Transport Services will respond appropriately and ideally select a new bus to serve those spots,” he said.

The cancellation of these routes is caused by HART’s 6 million budget deficit. A lack of funding, has caused them to cut 20 percent of bus routes, which saves them 5.8 million dollars. This however comes at the price of the students, who now are disadvantaged by the reduction in public transport. As the situation continues to unfold, Kheireddine encourages students to share their issues.

“Everything is just dependent on student feedback and the student experience and having students report in on if this is an issue for them or how it’s affecting them,” Kheireddine said. “I urge any student who sees this as a struggle, or is directly affected by this to please personally reach out to me let me know and I can help convey it to our Parking and Transportation services as well to HART itself.” 

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