Future of shuttle bus remains to be seen

Members at the Thursday meeting of the Pierce College Council (PCC) unanimously voted to research the practicality of a used vehicle to replace the current shuttle bus.


Due to a district order, Pierce College is being forced to hire new drivers and purchase or lease buses to replace the old shuttle bus system in compliance with a court order from a lawsuit, according to Tom Rosdahl.


The lawsuit, according to Rosdahl, was for not providing transit for the disabled to the Performing Arts Hill.


The issue at hand is whether to buy new or used. Either of which must comply with the court order, or provide equal or better service for the disabled.


The issue with buying a new vehicle is the price, but the trade-off is the low maintenance cost, versus a used vehicle, which will have a low purchase price but an unpredictable maintenance cost.


The other issue, which was left on the table for further discussion, was whether to have an on-demand or route based bus system.


The on-demand system would allow students to call the bus only when they need it, making it a potentially better system, but costing the school money to build phone booths to the bus dispatcher.


The route system, however, would continuously run and be compliant with the court order, but cost more money to maintain.


Lyn Clark, the chair of the council, believes the on-demand system would be a mistake because of the various disabilities that students might have.


“Sometimes people who are disabled are unable to call for demand,” Clark said. “I think it should remain the same.”


The new system must be in effect by the first day of Fall 2012, which leaves about four months until everything, from the buses to the drivers, must be ready for use.


Larry Kraus, the associate vice president of administrative services, is the facilitator of the process, making sure the process flows as smoothly and efficiently as possible.


The decision made by the PCC does not bother Kraus as much because he has potentially three months to decide which bus they will go with, and the drivers that will accompany them.


“It sounds like the PCC is saying to go with the most economical decision for the van,” Kraus said.


A frequent user of the shuttle bus system, Francis Lavarez didn’t have much to say about the inconclusive decision, but does appreciate the friendly and timely service it provides to anyone on campus, disabled or not.


“I have three classes there,” Lavarez said. “I’m carrying about 40 pounds in equipment there, so it’s easier to take the shuttle.”


Kraus would prefer to buy a new vehicle as they are easier to deal with than an unpredictable used vehicle and the almost guaranteed extra maintenance that would go with it, but in the end it comes down to affordability.


“It’s all in the numbers,” Kraus said.


Lawsuit story link: http://media-dis-n-dat.blogspot.com/2008/05/pierce-college-in-la-sued-over.html