The St. John’s shuttle bus service underwent a few changes for the start of the school year. Schedules were tweaked, the new off-campus dorm added to routes, and most notably, the weekend shuttle to Manhattan was canceled.
The Torch recently conducted an interview with Jackie Lochrie, associate dean for Student Services, who said, “It was determined that this was not a service widely used. In fact, on many of the trips to Manhattan it ran empty.”
As many students could tell you, this analysis is correct. Riding a weekend shuttle to Manhattan was often like having your own bus all to yourself. Few students routinely counted on the service for traveling into the city for weekend plans, and for the University’s budget, the service may have seemed like a waste.
But cutting the weekend shuttle bus service was not a positive move for the Division of Student Services.
Instead of cutting the weekend service altogether because of poor usage, wouldn’t it be better to evaluate the struggling service, identify the issues, and implement changes that improve it?
There is a large community of students at this university who would quickly hop on a weekend shuttle to Manhattan if it was reliable, convenient, and cheaper than public transportation. The St. John’s resident student population is growing larger every year, and with it the demand for transportation to Manhattan only increases. Weekends are when students have the most time to enjoy the city, and public transportation is now the only way for them to get there. Furthermore, the school’s close proximity to Manhattan is often what attracts students to come to St. John’s in the first place.
If the weekend shuttle bus service failed here before, it was not because the students did not have any use for it. Buses ran seldom throughout the weekend and only traveled to one location, Times Square.
Only two buses left for Manhattan each night, one at 4 p.m. and one at 8 p.m., and coming back to Queens was equally inconvenient. The last bus from Manhattan left before the midnight hour. These hours are tourist hours, not the hours kept by college students during the weekend.
Considering the weak schedule and singular drop-off location, it’s no wonder that this service was hardly used. Students want to see frequent bus times that leave the Queens campus at least once an hour. Buses that stop downtown and uptown in addition to the Times Square drop-off would bring riders closer to their destinations; after all, if a student has to take the subway from Times Square across town, they might as well have taken the subway from Queens.
St. John’s, being self-proclaimed as metropolitan and a part of New York City, should provide a decent weekend service that can bring students closer to everything the Big Apple has to offer for weekend enjoyment. Providing students access to weekend entertainment should be a priority for Student Services, and bringing back an improved weekend shuttle bus service would be a good place to start.