Harvard May Trim Shuttle Services

UPDATED (3:53 p.m.): The proposed cutbacks will be implemented.

The College’s shuttle-based transit system faces the possibility of significant service cutbacks for the 2009-2010 academic year, according to a letter released last Friday to all University Passenger Transport Services personnel.

The letter’s issuance was confirmed by Carl Tempesta, the manager of operations for Harvard Transportation Services, who cautioned in the missive that these “preliminary” changes are still pending finalization.

Detailed in the letter are several expected alterations, including the reduction of Memorial Hall and Quad weekday departure frequencies—from every 10 minutes to every 20 minutes between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.—and the restriction of overnight services on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, with service on Sunday through Wednesday nights continuing only until 1:30 a.m., versus 3:50 a.m. at present.

Though modifications to the shuttle schedule still await final approval, Tempesta said that their announcement is expected some time in the upcoming week. As written in the letter, all PTS personnel will be notified of the changes and updates will be posted on the Transportation Services Web site this week as well.

According to an upper-level member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 877—the transportation union to which Harvard shuttle drivers belong—changes to the shuttle schedule were first proposed earlier this semester in closed meetings between University officials, who appropriate the funding for transit services, and managers within University Operations Services, such as Tempesta.

Tempesta’s letter stated that the modified schedule is a result of the College and PTS working to “maintain shuttle services during peak hours of ridership.”

Though late-night service between Sundays and Wednesdays may not qualify as an interval of particularly high passenger volume, its cancellation—especially in light of recent incidents of violent crime on campus—may spark concern for Quadlings.

“Because there’s no library in the Quad [next year], we have to go to Lamont. And now there’s no shuttle back?” Erika M. Lovin ’11 said, referring to the College’s recent announcement that Hilles Library will be closing after this semester. “I think that’s ridiculous. At that point, I wouldn’t feel safe walking back. I think that’s definitely a safety concern.”

But according to Tempesta, safety remains PTS’s primary concern.

“We made these recommendations based on the least effect that it would have on the Harvard community as far as the service reductions,” Tempesta said.

He added that efforts were being made to preserve existing employment arrangements and avoid layoffs.

As further described by the letter, Shuttle Tracker—which uses real-time GPS to indicate shuttles’ locations on kiosks across campus—will continue to operate, though first departures on Saturday and Sunday mornings will be pushed back to 12:15 p.m. Service on University-wide one-day holidays will be eliminated entirely.

—Staff writer Edward-Michael Dussom can be reached at emdussom@fas.harvard.edu.

Shuttle Schedule Changes