Nineteen student complaints since the beginning of the semester were enough to get the university to add another bus to their system to roam around campus, according to an Open Records Request.
Students said they’re having problems with buses often running late, overcrowding, the air conditioner on the bus releasing hot air and drivers using their cell phones and taking breaks while on duty.
Donzell Jones, a Georgia State freshman, said his main concern within the Georgia State shuttle system is overcrowding.
“ Sometimes it can feel unsafe because we [students] can like shift forward and crash into each other,” he said.
Student Avery Johnson said he has also dealt with overcrowding while riding the bus particularly with the blue route.
“At night is when the bus is really crowded and there is always a crowd waiting for the bus approximately 25-30 people. I have had to stand every once in awhile and people are either pushing up against each other or shifting when it is crowded,” he said.
Calvin Copeland, a shuttle bus driver, said he has seen students try to overcrowd the buses but has control over how many more people enter, to prevent overcrowding on the bus.
“Once I see that there is no more standing room, I close the door and I don’t let nobody else on the bus,” he said.
Director of Marketing and Administration Support Chris S. Connelly at the Office of Auxiliary and Support Services explained the measures the university takes to prevent the issue on the buses.
“Our drivers are trained to not allow more than the maximum capacity of each bus in operation. There are certain heavy flow times of the day when the buses can become crowded and at full capacity. We have recently included a purple bus and a bus to the green route to help some of the crowding issues at peak times of the day. We also have an on-going monitoring process to track student capacity flow.” he said.
Georgia State bus driver Raymond Agare said the reason why buses often seem full is because of the students’ colliding schedules.
“I don’t think it’s a problem with overcrowding on the buses because some students don’t want to stand. They will wait for another bus, so it looks like the buses aren’t holding all the students, but students want to come at their own time,” he said.
Osman Dabo, a sophomore said he’s experienced drivers leaving him on the sidewalk when he was trying to make it to the bus and stated that there is one particular route that is always running late.
“One time a bus driver looked me in my eyes and did not open the door,” Dabo said.
According to student Adrielle Kwapong, the buses leave on their own terms.
“They wait for such a long time for them to leave as it gets closer to the hour for classes to start. It’s just frustrating because you’re just sitting here like I got to get to class and it’s getting closer and closer to time then you’re late,” she said.
Dabo added that he thought it was usually the green route that’s always late.
But according to Connelly, buses being late is a normal part of operating a shuttle system within the city.
“Buses are not on a set arrival or departure time due to operating in a major metropolitan city. However, the arrival times can be delayed periodically due to traffic,” he said.
He said the department has created the NextBus system for students to be able to look up when the expected arrival time for the next bus at their stop is.
Don’t Txt n’ Drive
Jones also brought up concerns about drivers who took cell phone breaks while on duty.
“When I have places to go, such as classes, the bus drivers will take a break out of nowhere talking on their phone, or they will bring their friend on the bus and have a deep conversation for about 10 minutes,” he said. Jones also mentioned that he’s noticed drivers texting while driving the shuttle buses.
Copeland confirmed that he has also noticed some of his coworkers on their cellphones while on duty.
“We’re told when we get a phone call to step off the bus. We’re not supposed to sit in the seat. If it’s a personal call, we are supposed to tell that person we will call them back and get back with them but sometimes the supervisor calls you,” he said.
Copeland said that drivers usually only take the call when it’s their supervisor calling.
Connelly said there are multiple steps taken to address drivers who continuously violate rules like talking on their phones or taking breaks while on duty. First step, according to Connelly, is getting in touch with MV Transportation, the bus system’s contract provider, whose management gives drivers verbal warning.
“The second response is to write them up. The third occurrence will result in a suspension,” he said.
Connelly is open to hearing students’ concerns about the system and said he’s currently looking into creating a forum for students to make suggestions on what could be changed with the way the buses run. A forum that will “provide feedback and ideas to help improve our services,” he said.