Paris Bienert: The broken Vern Express

At 2:30 a.m. on a Friday night, a mildly intoxicated Vern resident was waiting by herself at the Vern Express stop on Foggy Bottom. When the bus finally arrived, the girl quietly embarked and went to take her seat.

But rather than driving her to the Vern, the bus driver insisted the girl get off the bus, saying he would be fired if he allowed her to stay on the bus. Not wanting to cause a scene, the student got off the bus and waited by herself another 30 minutes for the next bus. This is just one example of what Vern residents encounter when trying to get home.

I doubt there is a single Vern resident who has not complained about the bus system at least once this year, and it is high time the University acknowledged the problems with its transportation system.

For example, anyone who tries to plan around the supposed bus schedule will soon come to the harsh realization that no such schedule exists. Buses will depart at 15- and 30-minute intervals, depending on the time and day, according to the signs posted.

There is virtually no consistent Vern Express schedule. Sometimes during the day, there will be as many as six buses lined up in front of Somers Hall. Other times students will have to wait 15 minutes for a bus to arrive. Is it really too difficult to regulate the driving schedule even a little bit?

And the problems don’t go away once you manage to get on the bus. Often, drivers will forget to count how many people step onto the bus before they take off. I understand the importance of recording the passenger count, but I do not think it is acceptable for a driver to focus on anything other than driving while the vehicle is in motion. There are times when a driver realizes he or she hasn’t counted and then turns around while driving to count the passengers.

I am not a certified bus driver, but I am fairly certain that taking your eyes off the road, especially when you have a busload of students, is a major no-no. Even if I’m wrong, are we as students demanding too much by expecting that our University’s transportation system will not jeopardize our personal safety?

Another problem is the drivers’ mysterious shift changes. Often, students needing to get to the Vern will see a bus waiting at the Foggy Bottom stop, get on the bus, and minutes later be told they need to get on a different bus because either the vehicle is going off-duty or the driver is going on break. Would it not be possible for the drivers to swap immediately when the bus gets to the stop? Why can’t the drivers tell students not to embark, or at least inform them that a bus is about to go off-duty? To me, these seem like easily achievable tasks that would save students a lot of stress and frustration.

I guarantee that if you ask any Vernie, he or she will tell you the Vern Express is a daily hassle that the University should acknowledge.

The bus system should not be a way to marginalize Vern residents further, but rather a way to lessen the gap between GW’s two campuses.

The University needs to acknowledge the Vern Express’ problems and fix them.

The writer is a freshman majoring in women’s studies.

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