USF has just introduced a new program to improve campus life for students with disabilities.
The Bull Runner, USF’s free transportation system, takes students around the 1,700-acre campus and to designated off-campus locations. The buses are equipped with a lift and ramp to allow students with disabilities to easily utilize the service.
However, there have been multiple complaints spanning several semesters from students about the availability of the system due to overcrowded buses — a problem the Bull Runner is now addressing.
“… Students who use adaptive equipment or have service dogs have expressed some concern that it’s often difficult to board busses because they’re so crowded and there’s people standing in the wheelchair aisles or in the wheelchair spaces,” Director of Students with Disabilities Services (SDS) Deborah McCarthy told The Oracle.
“This is one attempt to try to alleviate some of that concern by allowing students the option of calling ahead if they choose to do so that another bus can be put en route to accommodate them more directly.”
While having lifts on the buses is a good start, a program such as the new call ahead system is necessary to have an easy accessible campus for all students.
When Parking and Transportation received a complaint about the buses in December, they immediately began seeking a solution to the problem. They, not SDS, were the ones to implement the new program, demonstrating the widespread desire to make the college experience enjoyable and stress free for all.
“Presumably, the intention is that a student would then be picked up sooner if they were to call ahead because another bus would be sent out to help to manage some of the need, as opposed to having to wait for the next one and then finding out that the next one is also crowded,” McCarthy said.
SDS has made higher education more accessable for all students by offering a wide range of services to those who seek assistance. The campus is full of ramps and elevators so major locations are accessible. USF also has special housing accommodations for those living on campus.
It only makes sense they would extend this mindset to ensure the public transportation is as accessible as every classroom and public building.
There are obviously still hindrances across campus, but the fact that the university is willing to go above and beyond to aid students bodes well for the future of our school.
With every good service offered, there will be those who seek to abuse it. This is easily seen by the student mistreatment of the Share-a-Bull bike program, which led to thousands of dollars in damages and repairs to the free bikes.
Hopefully, the rest of USF will be respect the policy and remain content while waiting for a bus rather than abuse the system and risk having it stripped from those who need it, as this program will revolutionize the way students with disabilities utilize public transportation.