As students and professors learn their new class schedules, they also are adapting to a new bus schedule that utilizes fewer buses but more frequent cycles.
Under the revised system, buses will travel between East and West Campuses every three to five minutes during weekdays and more routes will run to Science Drive. Peter Murphy, the new assistant director of transit services, instituted the changes based on transit assessments made last spring.
Murphy said increased efficiency is at the root of the plan. All active buses will continually circle rather than park during off-peak times. The plan calls for East-West travel frequencies of about three minutes from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, compared to the old plan's five-minute cycles in peak times and 10 minute cycles in off-peak times. It also only uses six buses--two fewer than last year.
"The major difference is we are keeping the buses running," Director of Parking and Transportation Services Catherine Reeve said. "Having drivers sitting and reading the newspaper is not what efficiency is all about."
The spring's transit assessment found a high number of travelers on Science Drive buses, and that part of the bus system received one of the most notable overhauls. The East-Science Drive route combined with the Central-Science Drive route, with an increased frequency from 35 minutes to 12 to 13--and with service extended from a 2:20 p.m. to a 7:25 p.m. stop-time.
"We have a higher ridership from East to Science Drive than we were previously serving," Murphy said. "This should help students out."
The East-West-Central route will be on the same schedule, and weekend service also remains the same.
Safety is the goal behind other changes in the system. Drivers now count riders as they enter the bus and close their doors at 60. They also instruct people to exit through the back door and enter through the front--a move Reeve said increases both safety and efficiency.
Bus drivers reported, however, that not all students are abiding by the new rules as of yet.
"Some of the students still come in the back, so we are not able to count like we should," bus driver Gerald Mayo said. "It's not working out well, and I think they could make some improvements."
Many students said they had favorable bus experiences in the first days of the new schedule. Others reported that delays--which they blamed on fewer buses--caused them to be late to class.
"The system could be better," said freshman Nick Vivion. "Right now there is a lot of congestion and pushing."
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Reeve said that any problems reported this week are more indicative of first-week chaos than an insufficient number of buses. Duke Student Government leaders agreed, expressing satisfaction with the changes.
"They definitely streamlined the process. It's going in the right direction," said junior Clifford Davison, DSG vice president for facilities and athletics.
Transit Supervisor Darryl Holleman, who stood in the rain at the West Campus bus stop all Tuesday to observe bus patterns, confirmed some problems but agreed the kinks will be worked out soon. "It is a problem, but we have to give it a few more days," he said.
Kira Rosoff contributed to this story.