Hillcrest, Old Town Shuttle Routes to be Combined

The Hillcrest/Campus shuttle route could be combined with the Hillcrest/Old Town route by next April, according to a proposal announced by UCSD Transportation services on Nov. 7. If approved, the
consolidation of the shuttle services will take effect April 2, 2012.

“Stop UCSD Hillcrest Shuttle Cuts” petition organizer Ramin Hashemi first heard about the proposal in mid-October, when Transportation Services posted a flyer near the Hillcrest shuttle stop and shuttle drivers passed around an informational sheet to riders.

According to Hashemi, Hillcrest residents without cars depend largely on the current Hillcrest/Campus shuttle to commute to school.

For example, Muir College senior Nena Eichelberger moved to Hillcrest after transferring to UCSD because of the transportation services.

“I moved to Hillcrest and sold my car because the shuttle was here,” Eichelberger said. “Those decisions were made based on the transportation system that UCSD provided.”
According to Hashemi, the proposed shuttle service change could double the length of the commute for students who live in Hillcrest, North Park, Mission Hills, City Heights and other neighboring areas.

“[The current commute] is 20 minutes back and forth, which is not bad at all,” Hashemi said. “With the addition of the stops, it could take at least 35 minutes to get to La Jolla with traffic. Adding Old Town could make it 45 to 50 minutes, maybe even an hour in really bad traffic.”

Hashemi has responded by creating a Facebook event urging students to protest the change, compiling a survey to gauge student usage of the current shuttle route and creating a petition to save said route. This was done to gather information for the Nov. 14 and Nov. 15 student input sessions hosted by Transportation Services.

As of press time, 46 students have signed the petition.

According to Hashemi, the current route already poses difficulties to students staying on campus in the evenings, since the buses leave every hour starting at 7 p.m. and run until 9 p.m.

“If they were to consolidate it, they need to add more frequency [of the shuttles] and extend the hours to 10 p.m., 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m.,” Hashemi said.

No details have been released regarding any changes to the hours of the shuttle service.

“If anything, I really hope it does not come down to adding the two routes together,” Hashemi said.

Currently, there has been no large-scale rallying among students, Hashemi said.

“The reality is that we’re in a time and place where we’re facing budget cuts,” Eichelberger said. “[But] there has to be a way to not compromise the shuttles.”

According to Eichelberger, the upcoming informational sessions encourage students to share alternative solutions.

“Someone said to take out the Old Town altogether and suggested taking the [MTS] 10 instead,” Eichelberger said. “[Hillcrest Hospital] Patients don’t have the bus sticker and wouldn’t be able to use the 10. These shuttles are designed to shuttle patients, doctors, undergraduate students and graduate students.”

The MTS 10 goes from the Hillcrest Hospital to Old Town, a similar route to the proposed consolidation.  

Eichelberger said she has heard other promising solutions and believes a compromise is possible.

“It’s just a fact that we’re undergoing budget cuts,” Eichelberger said. “It’s important to recognize that you can’t take away how people get to class.”

The informational sessions will be held Monday, Nov. 14 from 9-11 a.m. at the Thornton Hospital and Tuesday, Nov. 15 from 11:30 a.m-1 p.m. at the Hillcrest Hospital.

As of press time, a representative from the Transportation Policy department could not be reached for comment.

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