Campus News

Fall bus and shuttle plans emphasize safety, service

Stampede passengers sitting well distanced and wearing masks.

Riders on the Stampede and campus shuttles have to wear masks and keep their distance from others. Photo: Douglas Levere

By CHARLOTTE HSU

Published August 11, 2020

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Christopher Austin.
“All of the things that we’re doing are designed to get people where they need to go efficiently, and in a way that helps them feel safe while using our services. ”
Christopher Austin, director
Parking and Transportation Services

Students, faculty and staff who ride the Stampede or campus shuttles can expect to see many safety measures in place this fall to protect the health of passengers and drivers.

For example:

  • Riders and drivers will be required to wear a face mask at all times.
  • Windows on vehicles will be open when feasible to improve ventilation.
  • Every other seat on buses and shuttles will be blocked.
  • Passengers will board Stampede buses through the rear door to limit contact with drivers.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available on buses and shuttles, and passengers are asked to clean their hands thoroughly before and after riding.
  • Signage on buses, shuttles and shelters will provide guidance on boarding, seating and social distancing.
  • Vehicles will be disinfected daily, and high-touch surfaces cleaned periodically throughout the day.

A more complete list of safety protocols tied to COVID-19 is available on the Parking and Transportation website. Fall schedules for the Stampede and shuttles have also been posted, along with an advisory noting service highlights.

“Our priorities are around keeping our drivers and our riders — our students, faculty and staff — safe,” says Christopher Austin, director of parking and transportation services. “All of the things that we’re doing are designed to get people where they need to go efficiently, and in a way that helps them feel safe while using our services.”

To reduce crowding, every other seat will be covered on buses and shuttles, and standing will not be allowed. This will create distance between passengers, though not always 6 feet of distance at busy times, which is one reason masks are critical, Austin says. Drivers or transportation staff will ask riders to wait for the next departure if a vehicle is at capacity under the new rules, he says.

Additionally, Parking and Transportation has scheduled popular bus lines at high frequencies for fall. The Yellow Line, which travels between the North and South campuses, is scheduled to depart every 5 minutes at peak hours, with eight buses running at peak times instead of the usual six, Austin says. The Red Line, which goes between Lee Loop and the Ellicott Complex, is scheduled to depart every 6 minutes at peak hours, with three buses running at peak times instead of the usual two.

Cleaning of a shuttle.

High-touch surfaces in vehicles will be cleaned periodically through the day. Photo: Douglas Levere

With UB planning to house all on-campus residents on North Campus this fall, traffic between the North and South campuses, usually one of the busiest routes, may be lower than usual. With these housing changes, and with libraries closing early on weekends and not operating overnight, the Stampede’s North-South schedule will end around midnight each evening and resume around 6 a.m. each morning.

However, more service could be added to these or other routes if demand is high, Austin says.

“Each night, we will review passenger load and capacities from that day to make sure we are running enough buses and shuttles and minimizing wait times where we can,” he says. “We will make adjustments as needed and as quickly as possible. With fewer in-person classes, we anticipate reduced ridership, but our seating capacity will also be reduced for safety. We factored all of that into our planning.”

Passengers are asked to do their part by adhering to safety measures, following drivers’ directions and choosing seats that maximize the distance between people. Austin also recommends that riders build in extra time for transit if possible, especially during the first weeks of the semester.

“We will have extra service at the start of the semester to help with any potential unforeseen passenger loads, but I always recommend leaving extra time to get to the destination,” he says. “We have a plan in place to meet and exceed demand, but this is a unique semester, so I certainly would encourage passengers to arrive early if they can.”

In addition to Stampede buses, the Green Line, Blue Line and North Campus shuttles will operate in the fall. Blue Line and North Campus routes will have on-demand service in addition to their regularly scheduled timetables, and a safety shuttle will be available on demand on weekdays between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. on and around the South Campus. Busing between UB and grocery stores will be available on certain days. The “Fun Run” to the Walden Galleria has been suspended.

Parking and Transportation may adjust bus and shuttle service during the semester depending on ridership, including when UB transitions to remote learning after the fall recess, which starts Nov. 25.

READER COMMENTS

As someone who is historically a frequent commuter on our buses and shuttles, I very much appreciate all the precautions being taken for me and my fellow riders, and equally for the drivers, who are very much exposed. Kudos!

Hugh Jarvis

I have been using the Stampede for the last few weeks. Just one thing I noticed: Sometimes for pullups by drivers, the back door is few feet away from people. More so at Flint. It's difficult to do a close park at Goodyear, I'm sure. Please be mindful of accessibility. Thank you.

Madonna Gehen