Changes to the University transportation systems went into effect on August 1. These included the addition of the East Baltimore Blue Jay shuttle service, decreasing the sphere of operation for the Blue Jay Night Ride shuttle and a new design for the Hopkins shuttles.
According to the University’s transportation website, the East Baltimore Blue Jay shuttle is a new service that combines the University and Hopkins Hospital shuttle routes. The shuttle will operate every day between the hours of 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Additionally, the Peabody Institute service zone was reintegrated into the Homewood Night Ride service area on Sept. 18.
Many students voiced concerns about the reduced radius of the Blue Jay Night Ride shuttle. Previously, students would use the Night Ride to go to the Inner Harbor area to visit popular dinner and tourist destinations, as well as participate in the nightlife of Baltimore.
Sophomore Katie Holekamp explained the difficulties that the new shuttle routes have presented in an interview with The News-Letter.
“Something that I did a lot last year was going down to Inner Harbor to get dinner,“ she said. “But it definitely makes it harder now because you either have to take a Blue Jay shuttle to Peabody then from Peabody either walk or take a different Blue Jay shuttle into Inner Harbor… or you have to go before 6 p.m. when the JHMI is still running.”
In an email to The News-Letter, Assistant Vice President for Media Relations and News J.B. Bird explained that the transportation team has been experimenting to improve all Blue Jay Shuttle services.
“All services have accessible vehicles and there are numerous ways to travel to Inner Harbor,“ he wrote.
Holekamp elaborated on her concerns about access to Inner Harbor.
“I know of people who go to Power Plant downtown a lot, and from what I’ve heard from their experiences, it’s both inconvenient and also a little bit dangerous,” she said. “It is a club, it is nightlife, so people are drinking there. If you’re coming back to Homewood you have to make a switch at Peabody and can be sitting outside for 15, 20 minutes.”
Similar to Holekamp, sophomore Amy Liu stated that students will still continue to commute late at night but will not feel as safe without the direct transportation services.
Liu further expressed her confusion regarding the communication and announcements from transportation services in an interview with The News-Letter.
“I know they sent out emails during the summer, but when I was reading the emails I didn’t understand what I was reading and eventually didn’t read them anymore,” she said. “Now, I just go based on TransLoc or other apps.”
In an email to The News-Letter, junior Adam Luo commented on the recent increase in wait times for shuttle services.
“I’m not sure if it is because they are just understaffed or if there is some other issue going on that we are not aware of,“ he wrote. “More than once have I had shuttles scheduled to arrive at a certain time and then just never show up.”
Bird wrote that the transportation team has been experiencing several technical issues due to the growth of Blue Jay Shuttle services, which have occasionally resulted in longer wait times than desired or expected. According to him, students can email email@example.com if they have complaints to open a follow-up investigation.
Concerning Lyft services, Bird explained that the transportation team is aware of two issues that hinder services.
“Be sure there are no foreign characters in your request,” he wrote. “Be sure to use specific numbered addresses for pickup and drop-off, not a range of numbers. Lyft can go to 106 W. University Pkwy, for example, but not 100-110 W University Pkwy.”
Holekamp noted that she has been using the University’s transportation less.
“The fact that [transportation] has changed can constrict people’s option,“ she said. “Now I take an Uber to go down to the Inner Harbor or to get over to Hampden, but I know that’s not an option for a lot of people.”