On Monday, February 25, the Student Senate held its weekly general body meeting. The primary focus of the discussion was the Capital District Transportation Authority’s bus routes around the area of RPI, particularly the 286 route.
CDTA works with RPI to provide students with an RPI ID public complimentary transportation. The three popular routes are the 87 route, the 289 route, and the 286 route. Students typically take the 87 bus to travel to and from the local Walmart and Price Chopper locations. The 289 bus offers transportation to locations between St. Mary’s Hospital to the north, Spring Ave. to the south, 3rd St. to the west, and Myrtle Ave. to the east. The 286 route is dedicated to use by the RPI community, although it is available for public use. It provides service to areas from Blitman Residence Commons on the west end of the route to portions of the east side of campus, reaching Sunset Terrace. Together, those three routes provide transportation for 250,000 passengers each year.
Both CDTA and RPI have expressed concern over the 286 route, though. Currently, that particular route only accounts for 8 or 9 percent of the total bus traffic, according to Frank Abissi ’14, who gave a presentation on the situation. He added that one of the reasons for this is that the route’s loop takes approximately 37–40 minutes.
CDTA representatives and RPI have begun to negotiate the terms of the contract for the 286 route, which is expected to be renewed this year. Instead of renewing the current route, though, the hope is to alter the route so more students utilize it. As a result, the Finance, Facilities, & Administration Committee has taken on the project to propose potential changes to the route. They have devised three different proposals.
The first, dubbed “Proposal A,” would eliminate service to the east side of campus, while providing direct access to the Pawling Avenue Corridor, which, according to Abissi, was identified as an important section of 286’s route. The justification for cutting east campus access is that the Red Hawk Shuttle already provides full access to that portion of campus, and it was deemed redundant to also cover that area with a bus route.
The second proposal, “Proposal B,” was designed around the concept of efficiency. Like Proposal A, it would offer direct access to Pawling Avenue, but there would be no access to east campus. There would also be only limited access to areas of downtown Troy.
“Proposal C” would essentially be the same as the current 286 route, with only very minor changes. However, many individuals involved in the negotiations, including Director of Auxiliary, Parking & Transportation Services Alexandre da Silva, do not want to continue 286’s service to east campus, according to Erin McAllister ’14.
Abissi also said that there was talk of potentially combining proposals to optimize the route for students. He mentioned that, for example, Proposal B could be used during the week to provide off-campus students with easy access to campus, and then Proposal A could be implemented during the weekend to provide students with transportation to and from downtown Troy. However, he also stated that the final decision would be made by CDTA. The decisions will be finalized by the end of the semester. Abissi added that, in the event that none of the proposals are accepted, 286 will retain its current route.
Elizabeth Anderson ’14 emphasized that, to her, Proposal B made the most sense for weekdays. She felt that many of the stops included in the other proposals were unnecessary during this period. However, she believed that Proposal C was the most reasonable route during the weekend. Kyle Keraga ’15 also stressed that it is important that CDTA ensures there is no overlap between the 286 route and the current shuttle routes.
During the meeting, each Senate committee also gave a report on its current activities. According to Keraga, the Student Life Committee has been working with Residence Life to include senators in the Office of Student Life’s “Pathways,” an initiative which began last year to encourage students to discuss issues of student life with the appropriate RPI staff members around campus. According to Abissi, the Independent Council has informally decided to become nonfunded for Fiscal Year 2015. The reasoning behind this, he explained, was that IC doesn’t have enough members to effectively support initiatives by itself. The IC will, though, collaborate with other clubs and organizations.
Senate general body meetings are held at 7 pm every Monday in Rensselaer Union 3202 and are open to all members of the Rensselaer community. For more information, contact the Senate via e-mail at JustAsk@rpi.edu or visit their website at http://studentsenate.rpi.edu/.