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How many Swift buses are there? Students talk delays, irregular schedules

Students living at 300 Swift and off-campus have been frustrated with the slow and irregular frequency of the Swift Avenue Shuttle (SWS) over the past few weeks. 

The SWS covers Campus Drive, Oregon Street, West Pettigrew Street and Swift Avenue, with 7 stops scattered along its route. The buses are scheduled to come every eight minutes from 8:12 a.m. to 10:10 p.m. each day. 

But some students have questioned whether the Swift bus actually runs at that frequency, citing 15-20 minute wait times and speculating that there is only one bus.

There are two buses scheduled to run on the Swift route, according to Beth Campbell, communications manager for parking and transportation. She also cited a driver shortage at times last month, with some “unable to work shifts and no other drivers were available.” 

Senior Leah Okamura, who lives at 300 Swift, has not been able to catch the bus according to the eight-minute intervals lately and described her experience with the route as negative.

“There’s no consistent schedule for the buses, which makes it hard for people who are running late for classes and then could have exams,” Okamura said. 

Okamura said that on multiple occasions, she waited over 20 minutes for a bus. She added that the delays often result in a collection of around 30 students waiting outside together for the bus.

The Swift bus has become so unreliable for Okamura that she occasionally resorts to walking to Swift or walking to the nearest C-1 bus stop to take the East-West bus to campus.  

Research Scholar Sruthi Venugopalan, who also lives at 300 Swift, seconded Okamura’s thoughts. 

“We used to have buses every five minutes. Now, we have to wait 15 minutes if you miss the bus before,” she said. 

She’s observed that the buses come at irregular intervals, while the overall frequency of the transit has noticeably decreased. She hopes that “the frequency of the bus increases like the East-West bus.” 

Students have also turned to the Transloc App to point out deviations from the stated bus schedule. 

“More often than not, there tends to be one bus if you look on the Transloc App,” said Ethan Gay, a senior. “What I find more annoying is that even when there are two buses, they tend to be running at the same exact schedule.” 

He’s noticed that the buses come in tag teams, which according to him, “helps nobody, because in general, the [SWS] buses are never full.”

First-year graduate student Jordyn Shubrick, a resident of Blue Light Living, said that buses don’t arrive at the scheduled times. 

“I realized that looking at the times that are listed on the [Duke Parking and Transportation Services] website, [they] are not very accurate to when the shuttles really come,” she said.

This discrepancy, she said, has resulted in her arriving at the bus stop only to find the scheduled bus leaving.  

When Shubrick waits for the next bus, she notices that the bus that drove off was the same one that comes back because it is driven by the same person. 

In response to the student concerns, Campbell wrote that Duke Parking and Transportation “regularly monitor[s] Transit Performance metrics and read[s] passenger feedback in an effort to provide consistent service.”

Gay said that despite the delays, he places no blame on the part of the drivers.

“It’s really hard to be mad at the bus drivers because they’re just trying to do their job and make a living,” Gay said. “The burden really needs to be placed on the administrative side, not necessarily the workers.”

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