Many students likely utilized the late night shuttle service after a long night at the library when the dreaded hike to the Ridge was the only thing standing between them and their bed. However, with the many new changes coming to Western Washington University in fall quarter, including the university’s plan to reopen, Western’s Transportation Services are making changes to their late night shuttle service.
The Student Late Night Shuttle 一 a service which provided bus rides to Western students from the hours of 11 p.m to 3 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays 一 stopped services due to the effects of COVID-19 and campus operations shutting down spring 2020.
All Western students pay a $28.50 Alternative Transportation Fee along with tuition and other university fees. According to the Western Associated Students website, this fee goes towards a Whatcom Transportation Authority bus pass, a student Alternative Transportation Coordinator, trip planning assistance and access to the late night shuttle service.
Late night transportation services for students used to have a fixed route, where riders could track the bus via an app. Now, the service is moving towards an on-demand based construct.
“We saw, with the advent of Uber and Lyft, ridership on the shuttles went way down,” said Jillian Trinkaus, Western’s transportation manager. “That showed us that people like that door-to-door service. We took this opportunity to reimagine what kind of shuttle service we could provide.”
Trinkaus said that since the service is for Western students who are paying for it in their tuition and fees, the transportation department does not want students to have to pay for Uber and Lyft as well.
Trinkaus said students have options for how and when they want to schedule a ride with the new service, including an app or calling to request a ride. Trinkaus said that students can also choose if they want a ride sent to them as soon as possible or schedule one for a later time.
Transportation services also plan to have two vehicles available for use at all times during the times of service, Trinkaus said.
Rosie Bunker, a third-year geology student at Western, has used the late night shuttle in the past and thinks the new format will be beneficial to students.
“The only thing I worry about with services like that is it may be hard for people who do not have the ability or capacity to go through the steps to request a ride,” Bunker said. “But as long as it is easy to access and get a ride to you, I think the service will be great in serving students.”
Trinkus said other ways the late night transportation service assists students is by providing rides to help avoid possible instances of driving under the influence, getting an unsafe ride home or walking home alone at night.
Health and fitness expert Karyn Golgart said alcohol has a huge negative impact on all people, but especially on young adults in the college-aged demographic.
“The effects of [alcohol] are more harmful in teens and young adults because the brain isn’t fully developed until about age 25,” Golgart said. “In addition, negative effects of alcohol last longer in young brains than in adult brains.”
Western’s Transportation Services are also rebranding the name of the service. On the Transportation Services website, students are able to submit name ideas for the new late night shuttle service. The winner of the contest will win a $25 gift card to the Western Associated Students Bookstore if their vote is in by August 1.
Nina Claflin is a third-year student at WWU studying public relations. She is writing for campus beat, specifically in student news & issues. She enjoys biking, fitness, hiking and reading novels in her spare time. She is also a twin (even though they look NOTHING alike!) She is excited to be on the staff for The Front this summer, and she can’t wait to come into touch with the journalism and campus community! If you wish to contact her, her email is Nina.TheFront@gmail.com.