Shuttle Hours Cut Back After 24-Hour Trial

Low student ridership causes College to stop service during early morning hours

Erik G. Schultink

The shuttle will no longer run between the hours of 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. on weekends.

The College has scaled back its 24-hour shuttle service to a schedule more in line with student usage, Paul J. McLoughlin II, assistant dean of the College, said last week.

The new shuttle schedule, which begins today, means that the shuttle will operate until 4 a.m. seven days a week. The service will resume at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends.

“I think an important thing to remember is that it is still an extension over a couple months ago, and I’m glad to see that extension,” Undergraduate Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 said.

The two-month trial period of the 24-hour service ended as students left for spring break, leaving Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 and McLoughlin to consider the costs and benefits of running shuttles around the clock.

After examining the data, Gross and McLoughlin decided to cut service during the hours with the lowest numbers of riders.

“Ninety-four percent of night-time shuttle riders use the shuttle between 12:30 and 4 a.m. while only six percent ride the shuttle between 4 and 7 a.m.,” McLoughlin said.

The cost of running the shuttle is approximately $1,500 per hour per month and the average number of riders each hour between 4 and 7 a.m. was 0.2, the equivalent of about five riders per hour per month McLoughlin said.

“I would rather spend the money on student organization support. The budget has a limit,” McLoughlin said.

Some students supported the 24-hour shuttle schedule because of safety concerns raised by this fall’s string of gropings.

But McLoughlin said the lack of demand justified the change in the extended shuttle hours.

“There are better ways for them to find safe transport at that hour,” McLoughlin said “They can certainly call a Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) cruiser.”

Mahan however still believes that there should be more options for safe travel late at night.

“Some work should be done to destigmatize the HUPD cruiser and I would like to look into the possibility of having one shuttle van on call all night,” Mahan said.

The shuttle schedule will be altered again in the future as the campus changes. The renovations of Hilles and the Allston construction will mean that the shuttle routes and schedules will look much different in a decade, McLoughlin said.

—Staff writer Joshua P. Rogers can be reached at jprogers@fas.harvard.edu.