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New year, new buses: Central Campus closure brings bus route shakeup

As Central Campus stops housing undergraduates, Duke’s bus routes are changing with the times.

The C2: East-Central-West, C4: Central-West and CCX: Central Campus Express routes will no longer run in Fall 2019, while the C1X: East-West Express will run for the first time since 2015. The C1S route, servicing Smith Warehouse, and the Swift Avenue route—both modified and tested over the summer—will remain in place for the academic year.

Like the C1, the C1X will connect the East Campus and West Campus bus stops. Unlike the standard C1, it will provide direct service by bypassing the stops between campuses. The new route will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, providing an estimated six-minute ride from campus to campus.

Duke previously introduced the C1X route—initially with three buses—in Fall 2011. At the time, some students and staff voiced displeasure at C1X buses repeatedly speeding by them as they waited at stops between the campuses. The express connection remained in service until 2015, when it was discontinued during a bus route overhaul.

When designing the new routes, Parking and Transportation Services considered student input via a survey posted to the Fix My Campus Facebook page, wrote junior Craig Cronin, president of Fix My Campus, in an email to The Chronicle. 

Among the 46 students who responded to the survey, 96% favored reintroducing the C1X, Cronin explained. Of those who favored the route, most preferred that it stop at the East Campus bus stop instead of Southgate Dormitory, which was the other option offered on the survey.

“The vast majority of respondents voted for the C1X idea, and they got it,” wrote sophomore Austin Ritter, director of social media and head of parking and transportation for Fix My Campus, in an email.

Carl DePinto, director of Parking and Transportation Services, also applauded the reintroduction of the route.

“With the loss of the CCX, [the C1X] will be a valuable addition to our already successful campus routes,” he wrote in an email.

Among the other service switcheroos is the Swift Express, which is now the Swift Avenue Shuttle. The new shuttle will run along Alexander Avenue instead of Oregon Street, allowing it to stop at the International House, which remains on Central as other buildings are demolished around it.

The shuttle will run at similar times as the current Swift Express, from 8 a.m. to just after 2 p.m., before taking a four-hour break and starting up again at 6 p.m. and stopping just after midnight.

The Smith Warehouse route has been replaced with the C1S, which will only provide eastbound service to the warehouse area, unlike the previous CSW route, which made both westbound and eastbound stops at Smith.

Weekend bus routes will also change with the loss of the CCX, as DePinto noted that two C1 buses will run on weekends. In previous years, there was often only one C1 in operation over the weekend.

A route change to the C3: East-Science Drive was discussed but ultimately not implemented, Cronin added. The proposal would have shortened the C3 route by discontinuing stops at the Mathematics and Physics Building, allowing it to run more often.

However, everyone wasn’t a fan of altering the route, Ritter explained.

“The other route ideas drew both emphatic support and heavy criticism,” he wrote. “So, in my eyes, [Parking and Transportation’s] decision to continue with the current C3 route makes sense.”

Duke’s bus fleet itself is also undergoing changes, as Parking and Transportation Services has received three new buses in 2019, DePinto mentioned. Last year, the University announced that it would purchase two electric buses for campus transportation, which are slated to make their debuts in July 2020.

“Looking ahead to this year, I am positive that thousands of hours of traveling time will be saved for members of the Duke community,” Ritter wrote.


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