Weekend shuttle service restored in limited capacity

McDaniel’s weekend shuttle service is back in a new, limited form as of last Friday.

The first come, first served weekend service was restored by the Department of Campus Safety, according to an all-school announcement made last week.

“The Division of Student Affairs is pleased to announce that shuttle service will begin next weekend, Friday, September 15th,” the Sept. 10 statement read.

The college had originally planned to no longer offer the weekend service, which makes trips to nearby metro stations on Fridays and Sundays with Westminster-local trips all weekend. The decision was reversed not even three weeks into the academic year after student demand for the service.

The cuts to the service came with a wave of campus-wide budget cuts.

“Campus Safety was forced to consider the elimination of certain services,” said James Hamrick, director of Campus Safety, in an email.

The decision came as ridership on the weekend shuttle has declined on average of over 41 percent in the past three years.

“[The] cost of operation was not an efficient use of funds for so few riders,” said Hamrick.

The college was able to secure additional funding for the limited service weekend shuttle after the start of the year.

The new weekend shuttle service will be offered roughly twice a month compared to the every weekend service that has previously been offered.

The first weekend shuttle ran last Friday. Future weekend runs are scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 1, Oct. 6-8, Oct. 27-29, Nov. 3-5, Nov. 17-19, and Dec. 1-3.

“We had a total of 19 students ride the shuttle this past weekend,” said Deputy Chief of Campus Safety Adam Reid.

Ridership on the shuttle will be monitored this semester and evaluated at the end of the semester to determine the future of the weekend shuttle.

No changes were made to the break shuttle which takes students to transit ports such as Shady Grove, BWI Amtrak, BWI Airport, Baltimore Greyhound, and Owings Mills.

“The break shuttle was never under consideration for being cut,” said Hamrick.

The first break shuttle is scheduled for the start of Fall Break on Oct. 13. Spaces must be reserved by Sept. 29.

According to historical documents, McDaniel has offered a shuttle service in some capacity since 2001, when it was housed in College Activities (now Student Engagement). It was transferred to Campus Safety’s jurisdiction in 2007.

In some months of decline over the past three years, ridership went down as much as 80 percent.

Ridership has always remained high on the break shuttle for semester breaks.

“Ridership remains consistently high for semester breaks, between 40 and 60 total riders,” said Hamrick, “and about half of that at the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the spring semester.”

Although the original cuts were made in congruence with the campus-wide cuts seen this summer, Hamrick made it clear that budget cuts do not affect what Campus Safety brings to McDaniel.

“Budget cuts have no impact whatsoever on the level of essential Campus Safety services,” he said.

Still, rumors of fewer officers on duty have been circling around campus. Hamrick clarifies that these are just rumors.

“The rumor of fewer officers being on duty is probably coming from the fact that, over the summer months, we were trying to fill four vacant officer positions,” said Hamrick.

Campus Safety never dropped below their minimum staffing requirements during those months, even with a staffing shortage, partially because minimum staffing levels are lower in the summer.

“We have since hired three new officers and are preparing to hire a fourth to fill the remaining vacancy,” said Hamrick.