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The University Insider is The Daily’s first faculty and staff-oriented newsletter. This weekly newsletter will give U-M faculty and staff the ability to see the most important issues on campus and in Ann Arbor — particularly those related to administrative decisions — from the perspective of an independent news organization. It will also provide a better understanding of student perspectives.

The University of Michigan will maintain pandemic-era bus routes put in place last year. An unofficial account run by U-M transit coach operators — ‘The U-M Campus Bus System’ — took to Facebook to announce the news, and the University plans on releasing an official update in August. 

Students have reacted negatively to the bus route news on social media, including on Reddit.

The Office of Logistics, Transportation and Parking (LTP) reduced the number of routes last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, when nearly all classes were held remotely. With the return of an almost entirely in-person semester, many students are concerned the pandemic routes will be overcrowded and inconvenient.

For those living on or near Central Campus, there are several bus routes. In 2019, these routes included the Commuter routes, which were critical to students who had classes on both Central and North Campuses, and the Diag-to-Diag Express, which passed lecture halls on both campuses. In August 2020, all three were removed from the route catalog. The image below, taken from the 2019 University Bus Routes catalog, shows the Commuter North route, the same route the Commuter South runs. The route ran from the Crisler Center and stopped at crucial places like the Union, Hill Auditorium, Central Campus Transit Center, University Hospital and Pierpont Commons.

In 2020, however, many students had to adapt to the Commuter North’s removal by taking two separate buses, the Stadium-Diag Loop and the Campus Connector.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Engineering masters student Rushil Kasetty said living on North Campus will make for a hard commute to Central Campus. He said the winter months will be particularly difficult when the hill before the Pierpont bus stop becomes icy. He also explained how the decreased number of busses will make exam time a tough couple of weeks.

“The hill gets really icy and we rely on the buses to get us down the icy hill,” Kasetty said. “Later on in the semester when we start hitting exam times, that’s going to be really tough because normally people already go 30 minutes early. Now, if you have to catch one of those few buses, you might have to go an hour or an hour and a half early just so you can make sure you catch the bus on time.”

The U-M Campus Bus System wrote on their Facebook post that their routes are in response to restrictions from the Office of Environment, Health and Safety.  Bill McAllister, general manager of Transportation and Waste Management Services, wrote in an email to The Daily that the restrictions were also based on guidance received from University public health experts.

“Based on guidance from our U-M public health experts for bus operations, we will maintain trips that have a duration of approximately 15-minutes or less,” McAllister wrote. “Working with faculty and staff in the College of Engineering, we optimized the bus system so that the majority of trips are shorter for most riders.”

McAllister also wrote that these restrictions will be in place for the full semester. However, Transit Services will evaluate the system’s operations as conditions may change in the future.

Kasetty hopes that University officials will listen to students and add more buses to circulate around campus. McAllister assured in his email that transportation between campuses will be sufficient for students.

“The (circulating bus routes) on North, Central and South Campuses will provide a convenient option for movement around the campuses,” McAllister said. “Some riders may choose to use the circulators or walk to the main hubs of the Campus Connector for trips between the campuses.”

Daily Staff Reporter Nadir Al-Saidi can be reached at alsaidin@umich.edu