Three days a week, when Ray Reaves has class at 10 a.m. the LSA freshman leaves his room in Oxford Housing to catch the bus. And, Reeves said, so are about 50 other people.
As a result, he said, the bus often doesn’t have room for everyone, meaning he has a choice between a cramped shuttle bus or walking to class.
“By the time it gets to the Oxford stop, it only can let on five to 10 people, so I always end up walking,” Reaves said. “There’s always like 50 people, so a good 30 people end up walking there everyday, which really sucks – especially when it’s been like five degrees out.”
The problem Reaves raised is an everyday occurrence for residents of Oxford Housing, located on Oxford Road about 5 minutes east of campus.
Many students who live there rely on The Link – a free bus service that runs through Central Campus – to get to and from class.
But because the buses are normally full and their pickup intervals are too far apart, many students are left out in the cold to make their daily commutes.
LSA freshman Beth Gombert said she’s often late to class because of the delays, which usually take about 15 minutes.
David Miller, executive director of parking and transportation at the University, said the crowding on The Link buses doesn’t necessarily mean there should be more service provided near Oxford.
“I don’t believe the ridership justifies adding any more service there,” Miller said. “We don’t see increased frequency as something that would make it necessary to add another bus during the week. If we were leaving people behind that would justify it.”
Ron Copeland, manager of transportation for The Ride Bus Service, said two Link buses go along the Oxford Housing route.
The University pays for about 38 percent, or $33,000, of the service’s budget.
Other students criticized crowding on the bus at peak class hours.
“Not only have I seen them leave people behind but it’s not safe to pile that many people on to a bus,” LSA junior Sarah Linden said. “I’ve sat on peoples’ laps, I’ve been piled on top of, I’ve been stepped on.”
Copeland said the bus’s overcrowding is a concern, but that adding another bus to the regular service is unlikely. He said the busiest times are between 9:30 and 10 a.m. and around 4 p.m.
“The overcrowding is something in-house that we’re taking a look at,” Copeland said.
Last semester, the Oxford Hall Council contacted the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to discuss ways to improve the bus service and perhaps have The Link run to Oxford on the weekends. Transportation officials and Oxford students have not yet met.
Copeland said officials have given thought to adding more weekend service.
“As far as any additional service on the weekend, those are some financial services we have to consider,” Copeland said. He added that transportation officials are looking into how much it would cost to add another bus for service during the week.
Ann Arbor Councilwoman Joan Lowenstein (D-Ward 2), whose district includes Oxford, said fixing the overcrowding problem appears to have more to do with finances than negligence.
“I think it’s kind of a money issue. If they had more money, they’d run it more often and on weekends,” Lowenstein said. “I get annoyed at any bus that’s not on time. I think the AATA does, too, and they strive to be on time.”
Lowenstein said that, given the students’ concerns, things would be better if there were another bus.
“They really could use one more bus,” she said.