UA Transit and Parking officials consider ridership data and passenger feedback when adjusting Razorback Transit routes.
Already this semester routes 17, 21 and 44 have been changed in response to customer feedback, said David Wilson, the communications director for UA Transit and Parking.
“Under-utilized routes are adjusted so that higher performing and more heavily utilized routes can be properly equipped with resources,” Adam Waddell, assistant director of UA Transit and Parking, said in a press release.
The goal is to place resources where they will help the most people, Wilson said.
Dnajh Baim, an international student who rides route 48, said Razorback Transit is convenient because she does not have a vehicle.
Cassandra Kisner, a Fayetteville resident who rides route 35, said the bus will be up to five minutes late on some days. Sometimes there is an accident that will delay the bus, but students will not know about it.
Although changes are made, they are not made quickly, Wilson said. Officials are careful and deliberate about modifications, because they want to be sure the solution to one problem does not create a problem somewhere else.
“They’re not going to adjust a route because of one person, but if one person says it, sometimes that means there may be others who have the same concern,” Wilson said. “So, over the course of a year, if you listen to all the complaints and questions, you get a good feel for the people who are needing something different.”
Students sometimes contact officials about buses passing their scheduled stop, Wilson said. It happens anytime of the year and it is usually because the bus already is full or operating behind schedule.
“The bus is deadheading to a set location to get back on schedule,” Wilson said, in an email. “If a bus passes passengers up due to it being behind schedule there should be another bus right behind it.”
Shaylee Wallace, a first-year graduate student who rides route 33, said her stop has never been skipped, but that passengers have been crowded and in one another’s personal space more so than necessary.
Wallace bought a parking pass, but could not find a parking space, she said. She began parking in a public lot and riding the bus to campus. It adds to commute time but it will save money eventually.
Some passengers wonder whether having smaller buses that run more frequently would help alleviate the crowding and time between stops.
The capacity on 40-foot buses is 72 passengers, and on 35-foot buses the capacity is 68 passengers, Wilson said, in an email.
The transit staff conducted a study to determine whether smaller buses would be more efficient than larger buses, according to the transit and parking 2017 annual report. Although the smaller buses are less expensive to purchase, their life cycle cost is significantly more than the larger buses, according to the report.
A new big bus costs about $430,000 after the university-required necessary changes are added, Wilson said. Those changes can include branding, radios and communications equipment, cameras and technology for counting passengers.
Officials want the buses to last for 12 to 15 years because they cost so much money, Wilson said. Some buses are bought each year so old buses can be rotated out, which makes the process more manageable in the budget.
Buses that are rotated out can be sold for someone else to use, but federal guidelines limit how a bus is transitioned into another role, Wilson said, in an email. It is possible that an older bus can be retrofitted to be part of Razorback Charters, but nothing has been officially done in that regard.