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'Going to class should not be that difficult': Swift residents react to not-so-swift buses

For the average 300 Swift resident, going to class doesn't mean leaving the dorm and arriving to the classroom within 10 minutes. Instead, it can sometimes be longer than a 30-minute commute just to reach West Campus.

The bus schedule has been a source of complaints since the beginning of the school year, as students have voiced their criticisms in groups such as Fix My Campus, a Facebook group created by Duke Student Government members for students to post requests to fix services around campus. Complaints about the Swift Express bus included unpredictable bus schedules, long wait times, unsafe routes and general inaccessibility for people with disabilities. 

Students asked about the Swift Express by The Chronicle had a variety of complaints, some of which centered on the bus schedule itself. 

Despite the fact that the Swift Express, East-Science and Class Change buses all stop at 300 Swift, sophomore Calum Keeley explained that there is often "no bus at the stop, and students are forced to walk down the hill to Campus Drive to catch a C1 East-West bus in the morning."

However, there is little point in attempting to catch the C1 in the morning, Keeley noted, as it is often full of first-years and unable to pick up any additional passengers.

Sophomore Tommaso Babucci complained on Fix My Campus about violations in disability accommodations. He explained that his roommate had trouble with the bus system, as some buses had broken wheelchair ramps and vans had no wheelchair access whatsoever. 

“The situation has gotten a little better now, as they have now sent out a big bus for the last few days. I just wish it hadn’t taken two month to resolve,” he said.

Because the Swift Express stops running after midnight, some students returning from West have to take the C1 and get off on Campus Drive before walking up the hill to reach 300 Swift. 

“Sometimes I come back from the library around 1 a.m. It is really scary walking up the hill on Campus Drive in the pitch dark with no security guard around," said sophomore Giselle Vargis. "I think this should be changed especially since there have been unfortunate incidents in the same area last year."

In Nov. 2016, an individual reported that she was sexually assaulted and robbed by a male suspect while walking down Swift Avenue at 10 a.m. Samuel Hasty was arrested in Dec. 2016 in connection with the sexual assault on Swift and a robbery in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Students also said that the TransLoc Rider app—which tracks Duke busses in real time—has been very hard to use around the 300 Swift stop. Many students have even posted screenshots on Fix My Campus showing the bus appearing in random locations on the map. 

“Sometimes no estimate is shown or it is shown as if the bus is in the middle of nowhere," said junior Andres Isaza. "I do like how the bus waits for a few minutes though at the stop and goes from West and back, but it would be helpful to know exactly when." 

Sophomore Vinit Parekh, a co-director of Fix My Campus, said he and his team are working to fix problems with the Transloc Rider app and address the issue of inconsistent arrival and departure times. He added, however, that they would not be able to make decisions regarding expanding the bus schedule so that it runs for the entire day—as opposed to taking a break from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.—or adding another bus. 

Even when the bus does show up, however, many times the Swift Express will not pick up students waiting at a stop, or the driver will tell people to get off the bus since there are too many people, said sophomore Esther Kwarteng.

“Once I was at West and the bus just didn’t stop for us," she said. "It just let the passengers get off and rushed away." 

Students also raised concerns about contradictory communication from the drivers. Certain drivers requested the bell to be rung so the Swift Bus would stop at Swift, whereas other drivers specifically emphasized not to ring the bell. 

Sophomore Ehime Ohue noted that there are now signs posted on the bus explaining whether the driver prefers the bell to be rung or not. The situation is still "weird," he added, because "we should not have to ring a bell to stop at Swift, especially because that is the only place the bus is going.”  

“Honestly, I feel like boarding the Swift bus is like having to plan for the Robertson Bus," said sophomore Matt Garside. "Going to class should not be that difficult."


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