Tardy transportation

As Tech continues to expand each fall semester, Parking and Transportation has proven unable to effectively adapt to the Institute’s growing needs and changing circumstances.

More than ever before, this semester students have been disappointed by the unreliability and ineffectiveness of the Stinger, Tech Trolley and Stingerette services. Currently, students tell frustrated stories of late and overcrowded Stingers, trolleys that do not stop—even when there is room, unanswered pickup requests and estimated wait times that seem to be wild guesses more than sound calculations.

Unlike other transportation systems, including many at other universities, Tech’s Stingers and trolleys do not operate on a timetable. For students, the absence of a strict time schedule turns what should be an expected routine into guesswork. For drivers, it makes adhering to route times a more flexible option. In the end, a lack of emphasis on punctuality hurts the system. While expensive GPS systems were installed to provide estimates of the wait times between Stinger and trolley stops, they have failed to adhere to a predictable schedule on which students can effectively rely.

This is of particular concern when the vast majority of students require campus transportation between the 55 and five of the hour, when they are rushing to get from class to class or trying to return home. There should be an emphasis on routes during these times—for example, by reducing the Stinger route cycle from the established “six or seven” minutes to exactly every three minutes—which could then be adjusted during times of lower usage.

Clearly, Parking and Transportation has had to deal with problems of construction and traffic around the Tech area, but these are entirely predictable factors that can be taken into account in advance in order to optimize the system and ensure its promptness and reliability. Further, with increased enrollment and extended Stingerette hours, the rapid rise in demand should come as no surprise. Adequate prior preparation would have prevented the current shortcomings.

When Stingers are only on time about 70 percent of the time, new ideas and solutions should be explored. Other universities, for instance, hire students as drivers. Doing so creates much-needed student employment opportunities, and a more flexible market devoid of unions allows stricter standards to be enforced.

At an institution renowned for innovation and excellence in engineering, there is no reason why the transportation system that thousands of students rely on should be so frustratingly ineffective.