By WESLEY ROBINSON
Students living off-campus in the Argyll neighborhood now have an affordable option for commuting back and forth from campus.
Eastern recently launched a new shuttle service that will transport those who live south of the bypass to campus without the stress of finding a parking space or getting parking tickets.
The South of Lancaster Avenue (SOLA) is a pilot project of the university’s transportation commission. For $1 a day or $25 for the semester, Eastern students, faculty and staff can use the shuttle that has six off-campus stops in the Argyll subdivision. The shuttle stops at the Stratton and Whitlock buildings on campus and runs from 7:30 a.m. to just after 4:40 p.m.
The shuttle initiative was funded by President Benson’s office, which set aside $15,000 to run the service through the spring semester, said Markus Cross, director of marketing and public relations for Eastern’s regional campuses and a member of the university’s transportation commission.
“We thought that would be a good place to start to try to ease traffic on campus and also to get Richmond residents familiar with mass transit possibilities,” Cross said of the pilot project.
Cross, who lives in Lexington, said he carpools to work, which saves money, prevents wear and tear on his vehicle and helps reduce the amount of cars in campus parking lots. He said the shuttle service would give the same benefits to people who live close by as well as the opportunity to interact with neighbors, coworkers and other students during the shuttle ride.
“It’s going to take a good bit of convincing to get people to use mass transit,” Cross said. “I would find it a real godsend to have a shuttle service. If I could take it I certainly would.”
The shuttles will run this semester and depending on the ridership, will continue, Cross said. The shuttle service, which began Monday, Jan. 13 is one of many initiatives by the transportation commission designed to improve transportation on campus in all forms.
“Beyond the shuttle service we’re looking at other things simultaneously to improve transportation on campus,” Cross said.
He said the committee is working on getting more bike paths, pedestrian walkways and crosswalk indicators in addition to the pilot program shuttle service.
“Nobody is trying to ban cars on campus or restrict that, we’re trying to make it easier for everyone who bikes walks and drives,” Cross said. “The whole issue of this commission is to make campus a much easier for people to travel around campus no matter what the means.”