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The Carletonian

Carls-Go! program cancelled, leading to difficulties in transportation to medical appts. and work or volunteer sites

<nday, Feb. 12 the campus transportation service Carls-Go! was discontinued. The program was launched at the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year. The brother program at St. Olaf, called Van-Go!, was also cancelled this week, said Mail Services and Information Desk Coordinator, Locke Perkins.

Carls-Go!, provided by the local shuttle service EcoTrans, allowed for students to make online requests for drivers to take them to community-based work study sites, classes at St. Olaf, volunteer positions, or recurring medical appointments, according to the Carls-Go! website.

An email on Monday from Perkins to students involved with the CCCE stated that EcoTrans was experiencing “staffing challenges.”

“I think more or less what ended up happening, though, was that they ended up overextending themselves. Basically, offering more rides than they could,” said Perkins.

“Carls-Go! became such a convenient thing that people ended up defaulting to that and it ended up extending their days, starting before 7 o’clock and ending at 8 or 9 o’clock, and trying to schedule drivers through that time became a difficulty for them.”

While officially cancelling their service on Monday, “they were having some difficulties completing their rides last week,” stated Perkins. EcoTrans notified the College on Sunday evening around 11 p.m. that they would not run the service on Monday. “It was very quick,” said Perkins.

For now, students who have recurring rides—whether for medical needs or student work—are using the voucher-based transportation service First Choice Shuttle, campus-certified student drivers are using Campus Fleet vehicles and Carleton staff are even offering students rides, according to Perkins.

“It was basically rebuilding the Carls-Go! business in about two days, but it is coming together. The rides are happening. Students have stepped up a lot to help out with that and are quite understanding about the difficulties for it,” said Perkins.

One of the most affected groups is the CCCE-based work-study students, particularly those working in the Reads and Counts program. Carleton students who tutor for this program must qualify for federal work-study, according to the CCCE website.

“Some people are driving themselves. Some people are carpooling. The CCCE (Center for Community and Civic Engagement) asked for our schedules, so people in the office can drive us to work. But, it is definitely more stressful than what we previously had,” said Kai Matsubara-Rall ’18, who has a community-based work study with Northfield Reads and Counts at Sibley Elementary.

“The CCCE staff is really working hard to get everyone to their tutoring shifts, but it’s difficult and the stakes are high,” said Lauren Goboff ’19, the CCCE fellow who manages Northfield Reads and Counts.

“The salaries from off-campus work study jobs like Northfield Reads and Counts are an important part of many students’ financial plans, and our tutors play an important role in the local schools. The necessity of reliable transportation to and from work cannot be understated, and that’s something we just haven’t had this term,” she said.

“In terms in what I have done, I have been walking to work. It is taking a lot of time,” said Matsubara-Rall. “I know last week when they first cancelled the shuttle, there was a massive panic.”

This is not the first time Reads and Counts tutors have encountered transportation issues. “The whole system is whack. Who is suffering the most? It’s the poorest percentage of Carleton,” said Matsubara-Rall, citing the long wait times at job sites and the lack of compensation for travel time. “I love my work study and there is a reason I have stuck with it for 3.5 years, despite the general disorganization of the program when it comes to transportation.”

According to Kendall Clements—the Program and Administrative Assistant at the CCCE, the Center is currently exploring adding compensation for transportation time for community-based work study students. She foresees this change occuring in the near future.

Despite the challenges in campus transportation after the discontinuation of Carls-Go!, “the plan moving forward is going to be probably having one ,or maybe two, routes driven by HiawathaLand and/or Northfield Lines,” said Perkins.

“These companies have to train drivers and make sure they have enough people to cover the routes and things like that. That’s all in the works, making sure it gets done to meet the needs of the College, so we don’t run into the same issues with a company overextending themselves and things like that,” said Perkins.

He expects this new route to be running in the next few weeks.

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