Sarah Vinci | Students were surprised this fall when they discovered the brand new shuttle system.
With the start of the 2018 fall semester, the University of Rhode Island’s Transportation and Parking Services debuted their new shuttle vehicles in hopes to improve on-campus transportation.
The buses can be identified by their clearly displayed URI logos, as they travel along three different routes: the Rhody Ram Line, Rhody Blue Line and Rhody Hill Climber.
When asked what prompted the transition from RIPTA bus carriers to the newly branded Rhody Transportation shuttles, Vice President of Administration and Finance Abigail Rider said, “While RIPTA remains our strong regional partner for travel to locations like Providence and Newport, we felt it important to have URI branded shuttles for recognition.”
The Rhody Hill Climber and Blue Lines can be seen operating in and around the main campus, while the Rhody Ram Line is used to connect the main campus to the satellite engineering facility at Schneider Electric.
In previous years through the University’s RIPTA agreements, the Hill Climber Line featured large buses, identical to the ones seen leaving the Memorial Union bus circle for Providence, Warwick and Newport. With the university’s new provider, FirstTransit, all vehicles are smaller in size with a capacity ranging from 20 to 36 passengers.
“The important thing is that on campus, we wanted to have something that was appropriately sized,” Rider said. “A lot of the time we had big shuttles running around with five or six people in them. The advantage of the contract that we have now is that if we notice that buses are chock-full at some particular time, we can actually add service.”
With the downscale in vehicle size, certain high traffic areas have experienced congestion and long wait times for available shuttles. Some of these locations include the Plains Road Lot and Fraternity Circle.
“The shuttle is really hard to catch near SDT,” said sophomore Julia Hogan. “You want to catch it when it’s going down to Keaney. There’s always a bunch of people just standing at the corner inside fraternity circle.”
“It’s really hard to get on,” said junior Maggie Quinn, “especially down at Plains in the morning, which I guess is to be expected.” Groups of 50 to 60 students can be seen congregating at the Plans road stops waiting to board the Hill Climber.
According to Rider, any capacity issues have yet to be reported.