SA senator wants to reform Virginia shuttle

When Student Association Sen. Schwetha Shekar, a first-year graduate student, heard about classmates who had to stay overnight on the Virginia campus because they’d missed the shuttle back to Foggy Bottom, she decided it was something she could fix in her role as an SA senator.

Shekar brought the issue to the SA Student Life Committee and has spearheaded work on the issue, working with the shuttle’s transit managers, Pamela Forshee and Chandi Rajakaruna from the GW transportation office. She said she hopes to add more shuttles to the current route, which leaves from Foggy Bottom five times a day and leaves from the Ashburn, Va., campus seven times a day, according to the shuttle schedule.

“They were really willing to help us out,” Shekar said. She added she hopes to see more busses added to the service within a month, and that she may be able to accomplish this goal without passing a bill in the SA. Shekar says students would benefit from more frequent shuttles because it would reduce congestion on the busses and allow students to use their time more efficiently.

“I have this one really close friend who said toward the evening it’s impossible to even stand in the bus. Forget sitting,” Shekar said.

She said she didn’t expect the shuttle service to be luxurious, but fewer students should have to stand on the bus ride, which is about an hour-long commute. Shekar said Rajakaruna told her he hadn’t heard complaints from students before, but was happy to help make changes. Glenn Hosby, who drives a shuttle bus, said he has noticed only about three or four students standing per trip.

About three weeks ago, the Virginia campus shuttle service switched out the usual small busses for a transit-size bus – which fits 31 people – during the busiest pick-up time around 4:30 p.m.

Jen Hinkle, a graduate student who lives in the town of Ashburn, Va. has been on Foggy Bottom twice when the last shuttle left a few minutes early.

“I had to Metro and then call friends and ask them to come pick me up at West Falls Church and drive an hour or two at 11 o’clock at night,” Hinkle said.

Because of the shuttle schedule, Hinkle said she once had to arrive at Foggy Bottom 30 minutes early for a meeting and then wait an hour afterward before there was another shuttle back to Ashburn, where she lives.

She added, “It’s a good service. I like it, so it would be good if it ran more frequently.”

The shuttle stops at Foggy Bottom five times a day during the week, with the last shuttle leaving at 10:10 p.m. But night classes, like labs, sometimes go until after the last shuttle has left the Virginia campus at 11 p.m., according to Shekar.

Krishne Geigee, a graduate student who works on the Virginia campus, takes the shuttle at least four times per week.

“It would be helpful if it were frequent, especially on Saturdays,” she said.

Students can also take the Metro to the West Falls Church stop and then either take a cab or a shuttle to the Virginia campus, but the Virginia shuttle is the most direct route, Hosby said.

He said, “They’d rather take this probably because it’s less of a headache. It’s a straight shot.”

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