I am writing on behalf of myself and my staff to address recent concerns about the Vern Express. Serving up to 1,000 students daily, the Vern Express is a vital link connecting our campuses and provides an important service for the GW community. For this reason, I would like to give some information to hopefully clarify some of the issues recently raised in The Hatchet.
When students ask, "Why aren't shuttle schedules consistent?" there are three factors to keep in mind.
First, the most challenging variable in the predictability of the shuttle's schedule is D.C. traffic. Though drivers and dispatchers are trained to respond to traffic conditions and alter routes as needed, traffic can create unpredictable delays that may be unavoidable. The regular travel time between campuses is 15 minutes during non-rush hours.?However, in peak traffic it may take up to 45 minutes for shuttles to travel between campuses. We encourage riders to keep this in mind when planning their travel.
To assist riders in tracking the service, we provide updates on Twitter to provide the most current alerts on route statuses and traffic conditions.
To limit wait times, our transportation provider, International Limousine, has agreed to abide by a "seven minutes or full" philosophy in providing service during peak hours, 7 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. This means a shuttle will depart in seven minutes or earlier, if full.
Another question students have posed is, "Why are there several shuttles 'stacked' up at the stop?"
The Vern Express' schedule of departures varies in response to class schedules and student transportation needs. We monitor and adjust schedules on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis to meet the ever-changing travel needs of you, our customers. This coordination may result in additional shuttles at one, or both, ends of the shuttle's route.
What about service during non-peak or weekend hours? High-volume evening travel between campuses has shifted this semester from the previous 6 to 7 p.m. time range to the 7:15 to 9 p.m. time range. In response, we've staged more shuttles at the Foggy Bottom Campus during this time to accommodate Vern residents returning home. We will continue to monitor the travel times to ensure our schedule accommodates our customers.
Students have also asked,?"Why does the Vern Express care if a rider is intoxicated?"
The answer to that question is that we are dedicated to each passenger's safety, and if a driver suspects a passenger is intoxicated, the driver is instructed to alert University Police for the safety of the passenger. This also helps ensure other riders do not have to experience delays if an intoxicated student becomes sick on the shuttle, and if the shuttle is removed from service.
Students also wondered, "Do drivers turn around 'to count riders' while driving?"
The University is committed to the safe operation of the service, and we have discussed this assertion with our operator and have found no evidence of drivers counting riders while driving. We have also confirmed that drivers are receiving appropriate training regarding rider safety.
How can you voice a concern or suggestion to help improve the Vern Express? We appreciate your feedback on service and are dedicated to responding to concerns and suggestions. Any suggestions, comments or complaints can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org?or posted on Twitter, and you will receive a response within 24 hours. Your input will help us provide a Vern Express service that meets everyone's transportation needs.
Larry Cohen is the director of GW's Transportation and Parking Services.
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