By Cassy Sottile
Transportation on campus has been updated in the slew of changes that came this semester.
Since last fall, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sarah Feyerherm has led the transportation task force. Under Feyerherm, the task force is looking at four primary issues related to transportation: Washington College’s motor pool, the shuttle system, ride sharing, and the waterfront campus.
WC’s motor pool, which is comprised of cars, minivans, and mini buses, has a new fleet of cars. Minivans for the fleet are provided through a leasing arrangement with Enterprise, according to Feyerherm.
“We have re-drafted the entire transportation policies and processes which we believe will make the entire transportation system safer and more financially stable,” Feyerherm said.
The weekend shuttle system that carries students to Annapolis and the New Carrollton Metro Station, as well as the vacation shuttles for students to and from train stations and airports, are getting an update.
The College is in the process of forming an agreement with a vendor who would provide the services for the shuttle services.
“If we can come to an agreement with a transportation company, they would provide the services directly to our students, and the College would get out of the business of providing the shuttle service, leaving it to a company that has the expertise and resources to provide a reliable shuttle,” Feyerherm said.
With this change, there would be a cost to use the shuttle. This is the case at other institutions that provide similar shuttle services, according to Feyerherm.
“We are hoping to have something in place this year. In the meantime, we are still running the shuttle service,” Feyerherm said.
Shuttle service trips were reduced this year. They only run on Fridays and Sundays. Students can go to Annapolis or New Carrollton on Fridays.
They will transport passengers to the Annapolis Mall before heading to New Carrollton, returning to the mall to give students more time in Annapolis.
To accommodate for the construction on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Friday shuttle now leaves campus at 6 p.m. as opposed to 4 p.m.
One of Feyerherm’s major goals for the task force is to promote ride sharing among students with on-campus cars by connecting students with each other.
This initiative is a little more complicated, but has potential to be more environmentally and financially sustainable, according to Feyerherm.
“A well-functioning ride share program would provide more flexible and affordable transportation options for students who do not have cars and need rides locally and farther afield,” Feyerherm said. “It would also reduce our need to run as many shuttles and put additional vehicles on the road.”
Since the Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall opened, the College is also considering student access to the waterfront campus and how to make the transportation methods there sustainable.
“It is our hope to have several options for students, faculty, and staff to get to and from the waterfront campus safely. Parking is limited down there and it only makes sense that whatever solution we come up with is also environmentally sustainable,” Feyerherm said.
One possible solution is the integration of the Safe Ride vehicles and drivers as a possible way to extend shuttle service in town as well as to the waterfront campus during the day, according to Feyerherm.
All of the new transportation policies include changes in fees for vehicle use while also introducing new features such as gas cards, an Enterprise maintenance plan to ensure the upkeep of the vehicles and easy access to repair shops, and online reservation systems.
Since the fees increased the costs associated with using College vehicles, Feyerherm and the task force will work with students, faculty, and staff to still access the vehicles without having had the opportunity to budget for them.
If any student is interested in participating in the transportation task force and is available the first Monday of every month at 1 p.m., email Dean Feyerherm at firstname.lastname@example.org.