Vern Express lifts ban on standing

Standing is again allowed on the Vern Express after the company that manages the shuttle conducted a three-month investigation of the safety of the shuttles.

International Limousine, which operates the shuttle service, required passengers to be seated on all moving shuttles after a student fell through the emergency back door of a shuttle in June.

“This prohibition was put into place immediately to ensure the safety of passengers on the shuttle during the investigation of this incident,” University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said.

After the incident, the firm began a safety review on all shuttles, checking them against federal safety standards with a particular focus on the rear door mechanisms. The company also added a metal plate over the rear door handles of all shuttles as a backup safety measure, Sherrard said.

International Limousine completed its inspection in early August, concluding that the shuttles met national requirements and were fit for student transport.

Sherrard said the University considered the safety review and the additional safety feature on each vehicle when deciding to lift the ban in early August.

Junior Josh Brickman, who commutes daily from the Mount Vernon Campus, said some drivers still prevent students from standing, instead making them wait for the next shuttle during heavy traffic hours.

The Vern Express transported an estimated 30,000 riders this August, and September might carry an additional 30,000 riders, Rachelle Heller, the associate provost for the Mount Vernon Campus, said.

“The Vern Express has been perfect so far,” Heller said.

She believes the service will only continue to get better, pointing to the new tracking technology that she said will “change a lot about how people see the shuttle.”

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