The University Police Department seems to be on the right track to address the biggest problem students have with the late-night 4-RIDE service: long waits. While technology that would allow drivers to call when they are close by is a positive first step that should be implemented immediately, increased publicity of the Colonial Express is the best long-term solution to the perennial student complaints.
Through the new GW Web site, 4-RIDE operators and clearly marked shuttle stops, GW should work to better market the Colonial Express shuttle service to students, who report rarely using it. Doing this would alleviate the strain on an already overburdened 4-RIDE capacity problem, which the University has already thrown $100,000 at this year.
UPD Director Dolores Stafford says the average wait on a call for 4-RIDE is 15 minutes. But some students say they wait closer to 30 minutes for the 4-RIDE service to show up. Efficiency during slow times could explain the discrepancy.
Students would spend less time waiting if they starting using Colonial Express, which runs from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. More people taking the Colonial Express would alleviate long waits for the premium point-to-point 4-RIDE service, which students such as Aston Hall residents who live outside Colonial Express boundaries need. UPD is right to direct students to the shuttle service for most on-campus travel. But UPD needs to put up signs to clearly mark stops and indicate what times they are expected to arrive (a random check by The Hatchet Wednesday night found inconsistent arrival times and an average wait of 18.5 minutes, which is twice as long as UPD advertises).
That some Student Association members want to expand 4-RIDE beyond its current boundaries is commendable but will not solve current problems. The University should devote resources to publicize the shuttle service and make it run on time to give it a chance to succeed before taking on more areas with 4-RIDE.
If GW students continue to spurn the Colonial Express shuttle after an advertising campaign and real attempts to make it a more useful service, then perhaps the University should consider other options – including expanding the 4-RIDE system even further. But this is a second-best option, considering a framework for improvement is already in place.
It is understandable students want a point-to-point service like 4-RIDE for safety purposes. It is unreasonable to want that same service for trips that clearly would be better for Colonial Express.