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SLO Transit adding more bus trips to Cal Poly after students kept getting left behind

Cal Poly students line up Thursday morning to board a bus on Ramona Drive in San Luis Obispo. SLO Transit is boosting service to campus after full buses were forced to leave students behind in the first few weeks of fall quarter.
Cal Poly students line up Thursday morning to board a bus on Ramona Drive in San Luis Obispo. SLO Transit is boosting service to campus after full buses were forced to leave students behind in the first few weeks of fall quarter. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Cal Poly announced Thursday night that SLO Transit would expand its bus service to and from campus, nearly a week after several student activist groups published a survey critical of the existing route coverage.

The 15-page survey paper called for restoring bus frequency during peak hours “to ensure that buses are not rejecting passengers” on the 3A, 3B, 4A and 4B routes. It also called for running “sweeper buses” that would pick up passengers left behind because the buses are full.

In a 24-hour span, 123 people responded to the survey; more than half of the respondents reported full buses driving past their stop, forcing them to walk to class and making them late. More than 80 percent said buses were uncomfortably crowded, did not run late enough and that the existing bus times were inconvenient.

A few wrote about how a lack of night service led them to be concerned for their safety while traveling home.

“As someone who does not feel comfortable walking home in the dark alone, and who can not afford a new bike at the moment, I need SLO Transit to work at least as well as it did last year,” one respondent wrote.

Another wrote, “It’s difficult because no matter how at home I feel in this city, it doesn’t make walking alone at night any easier or more practical and I end up having to heavily rely on my friends to pick me up or to just give in and pay for an Uber or Lyft.”

Thousands of freshmen and transfer students began moving into dorms and apartments at Cal Poly on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, before the kickoff of “Week of Welcome” on Sunday.

One respondent was a Cal Poly staff member, who said they frequently pick up students left behind at bus stops.

“Seeing the stress in students because they are not able to get to class is concerning,” the person wrote.

Beginning Monday, SLO Transit will use the “Highland Tripper” route to supplement Route 4A from 7 to 9 a.m., considered peak transit time for Cal Poly students. This route includes stops along Ramona Drive, Palomar Avenue, Foothill Boulevard, Patricia Drive and Highland Drive before stopping at Kennedy Library on campus.

In mid-November, SLO Transit will also expand the hours for 4B and 3B, with buses running until 10:30 p.m.; while Route 3A buses will run every 30 minutes between 6 a.m. and noon and 3B buses will run every 30 minutes between 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

More information is available by visiting SLO Transit online.

The announcement comes as Cal Poly struggles with accommodating a larger-than-anticipated incoming freshman class and reduced parking as a result of construction, with quarterly and annual parking permits rapidly selling out.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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