The number of students who have vomited on the Vern Express hasn’t increased since last year, but each incident is still taking a significant toll on the shuttle’s service – and potentially some students’ wallets.
Three students vomited on the Vern Express since the start of the fall semester. That number mirrors last September’s total of incidents, each of which forces the shuttle out of service and can cost the culprit a hefty sum, usually more than $200.
“Even though these situations have been limited, each occurrence has a significant impact since it results in the immediate removal of that shuttle from service so the bio-hazardous waste can be removed,” University spokeswoman Jill Sankey said.
The University implemented the fee – which covers cleanup costs, shuttle removal and potentially cab vouchers for inconvenienced riders – in 2007. At the time, then-Managing Director of Mount Vernon Campus Life and Marketing Robert Snyder said there were usually about two or three incidents each semester.
Aside from the unpleasant sight and smell, Sankey said taking a shuttle out of service is challenging during evening, weekend and late-night periods – the times the incidents have been occurring – because of the time it takes to bring a new shuttle into service.
It may be 30 to 45 minutes before a new shuttle can be in service, Sankey said. A minimum of two shuttle buses are used on the weekends from Friday at 10 p.m. through Sunday evening.
In the case of a shuttle being taken out of service, the standard procedure is to have the vehicle steam-cleaned and disinfected, which takes about one day.
Keeping vomit down, though, may not be enough to get intoxicated students off the hook.
“The shuttle drivers are looking out for intoxicated students and will notify UPD if they believe a student is intoxicated,” Sankey said. “If a shuttle is taken offline due to an alcohol-related incident, a tweet is sent informing students of potential schedule delays.”
At least two tweets last month from @TheVernExpress showed both student and administrative displeasure with sick students. The Twitter handle has cited “poor student judgment” when shuttles are forced out of service.
Some students, particularly those living on the Mount Vernon Campus, have become frustrated with the delays that result from vomiting episodes on the shuttles.
“It’s very inconvenient because it’s 2 a.m. and you’re trying to go back to your dorm, when you get a text saying there is only one shuttle running,” said Adrienne Bonde, a freshman who lives on the Vern. Along with tweets, texts are also sent out to notify students about Vern Express delays.
Another Vern resident, freshman Peyton Kemp, asked for some “common courtesy” from fellow riders.
“If you go out late and you are drunk, stay with a friend at Foggy, be considerate of other people,” Kemp said.
This article appeared in the October 4, 2010 issue of the Hatchet.