Starting April 10, the University has offered Blue Jay Shuttle rides between Homewood Campus and the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the M&T Bank Stadium. Rides are booked through the TransLoc app, with shuttles departing daily from the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at the top of every hour from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Return trips are every half hour from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
However, several students have described the inconvenience of the trip schedules, saying that it often left them waiting for a shuttle to pick them up from the stadium.
Sophomore Cristina De Jong noted that she had to use a different form of transportation due to the untimely schedule.
“The one to M&T came at the right time, but I have a class at 1:30 [p.m.] and the next shuttle comes [at] 2:30 [p.m.],” she wrote in an email with The News-Letter. “Some other students and I split an Uber, so it was a bit frustrating.”
Freshman Rohin Gurumurthy recalled a similar experience.
“I took the shuttle for my appointment at 2:00 p.m.,” he said. “I was done around 2:45 p.m., but I had to wait until 3:30 [p.m.] to take the ride back.”
In an email to The News-Letter, Assistant Vice President of External Relations Karen Lancaster explained that the current schedule best addressed the timing needs of shuttle trips.
“The one-way trip including passenger loading time, with a possible stop at [the Baltimore] Convention Center if requested, is just under 30 minutes,” she wrote. “This aligns with our scheduling system to select times on the hour and half hour.”
Other students reported that the shuttle failed to arrive at the appointed time, forcing them to use other forms of transportation to return.
Junior Lexi Short complained that she waited for an hour and the shuttle still didn’t arrive in an interview with The News-Letter.
“I called a shuttle at 11:30 a.m. to get back, and I was still waiting an hour later so I had to call an Uber to get back for class,” she said.
Freshman Vanessa Obi described being similarly stranded at the stadium.
“A bus was supposed to come at 1:30 p.m., but it never came,” she said. “The app said it would come in less than 15 minutes, and it was still like that for an hour.”
Obi suspected that the issue arose due to the insufficient shuttle capacity for everyone. She expressed her wishes for more buses to be added to expand capacity.
Lancaster explained that time conflicts may be the cause of the confusion.
“Occasionally, a student may request an odd time, and the team tries to contact them to avoid longer waits or missing a van and they rebook,” she wrote.
Sophomore Evelyn Shiang pointed out that when she took the shuttle, she was surprised to find it overcrowded. She also guessed that there weren’t enough buses.
Shiang specifically recalled an exchange between the shuttle driver and his supervisor discussing the overcrowding issue.
“We heard the driver calling his supervisor and telling him that he shouldn’t be taking that many people,” she said in an interview with The News-Letter. “The people on the radio said he should reject everyone he can’t fit in the capacity limit.”
Shiang argued that the University should do a better job of coordinating the number of people scheduled to get on the shuttle at a time as well as the number of shuttles. She remembered only ever seeing one shuttle; the same vehicle transported her to and from the stadium.
According to Lancaster, the University primarily uses one shuttle to transport people to and from the vaccination site and will add a second shuttle should the need arise. She added that at least 250 students have used the service.
Lancaster also stated that the current system was flexible in accommodating for excess demand by requesting more shuttles. She mentioned that recommendations are welcome at email@example.com and that they are willing to investigate specific complaints.
Molly Gahagen contributed reporting to this article.