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College transportation options expand with new programs

In response to student feedback and a growing demand for Carleton-sponsored transportation, Campus Services modified its transportation for this academic year. Part of the expansion is Carls-Go, a weekday route that runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and travels to all Northfield schools on the east side of Highway 3. The shuttle arrives at the Davis parking lot every 30 minutes and does not require a reservation. The company EcoTrans sponsors all of the vehicles for this route.

Previously, First Choice Shuttle was the sole student transportation provider on campus, according to Judson Ulvestad, Director of Campus Services. Last year, Campus Services piloted Carls-Go with First Choice.

“We started this route with First Choice because of student requests and an increased use in our services,” Ulvestad said. “First Choice went along with our request for a route. The first year had some bumps.”

Based on student feedback and how First Choice ran Carls-Go last year, Ulvestad said that last spring, he started looking into a partnership with EcoTrans.

“We added the route because there was an expectation that we had to get students to their work and volunteer opportunities on time, so we had to be dependable,” he said. “With the route we are able to get closer to the times that students need to be at various schools.”

Because Carls-Go travels to Northfield schools, the majority of the students who use it are a part of the CCCE, according to Ulvestad. Patrick Widgent ’19, an Education Fellow for the CCCE, said he frequently uses Campus Services and helps other students navigate Carleton’s transportation options. “The CCCE is a big user of transportation, so our feedback has an impact on Campus Services,” he explained.

“We gave a lot of feedback regarding how First Choice was working, and I think our feedback was definitely instrumental in the change occurring,” he said.

For example, “you’d call to make a reservation and they’d be rude to you or they’d be late to routes,” he said. “We heard a lot of student complaints about that sort of thing.”

Because Carls-Go does not stop at every location in Northfield and has specific hours, the scheduled service is still available. Students can reserve a ride online anytime between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. and reservations must be made by 8 p.m. the day prior to the ride. After 9 p.m., non-emergency medical vouchers are available by calling Campus Security. EcoTrans runs the service from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., while First Choice runs the service from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Bill Steele, owner and founder of EcoTrans, explained that his company was approached to do the education route and to provide some other reservation-based services for students.

“It is really an honor to provide students with the services they need,” Steele said. “Part of our company’s vision is: We’re here to serve the campus.” First Choice declined to comment for this article.

In addition to the new transportation route, the Fleet Vehicles, which provides access to locations not covered by Campus Services’ predetermined routes, was also modified over the summer. The Fleet Vehicles are now equipped with GPS to help Campus Services with billing and to help them save on labor costs, according to Dan Bergeson, Director of Auxiliary Services. In the past, students had to fill out log books at the beginning and end of every trip and had to keep all fueling receipts. Now, the GPS tracks mileage and the vehicles have an integrated fueling card.

By having the GPS, “we have increased safety and security,” Bergeson said. “We can know where you and the vehicles are at any time. For instance, with the flooding we were able to track and find vehicles, so we could move them to various other parking lots and so we could tell students where to pick up the vehicles.” The GPS also allows Campus Services to know how students are using the vehicles.

“Sometimes, students reserve the vehicle for one reason, but actually use it for another,” Bergeson explained. “Now, we can be more efficient in our reservations by knowing when exactly cars are being used and ensure that students return them on time.”

The Fleet Vehicles now also have a braking, acceleration and decelerating monitor, though Bergeson made it clear that Campus Services did not ask for these components to be added the vehicles. Rather, the new system came with these features. Another aspect of the Campus Services expansion is the Hiawathaland transit bus. Its route is now 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. instead of from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Campus Services was able to expand the route thanks to a partnership with CSA, according to Bergeson. Campus Services provides the route weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and CSA cosponsors the Express route with Campus Services from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Instead of needing to pick up a token from Campus Services or the Info Desk in order to use this bus service, students, faculty and staff need only show their OneCard to the driver. Campus Services’ other transportation services, Northfield Lines and Enterprise Car Share, have not changed since last year.

Rachael Sutherland contributed to this story.

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