Student Senate Launches New Shuttle System

Madeline Stocker

In mid-April, Student Senate announced that a new local shuttle system would be available to students. Prior to the creation of this shuttle service, the College had no working form of transportation aside from the airport shuttle.

The shuttle costs $1 for a round trip to Walmart, IGA, Johnny’s and Drugmart and departs every half hour from Wilder from 3-6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. There is also a $20 shuttle that runs to Crocker Park every Saturday, leaving Wilder at 1 p.m. and returning to Oberlin at 8 p.m. Unlike the other bus, the Crocker Park shuttle is not funded by Oberlin; its funds and revenues are managed by the head administrator of the Oberlin Airport Shuttle.

The shuttle stops — aside from Crocker Park, which was suggested by the shuttle company itself — were determined by surveys circulated through the College last month, which asked students which places they would most like to see on a transportation line.

The creation of the new shuttle is something that Oberlin has been considering for some time now according to College junior Colin Hunsberger, who works as the Transportation Coordinator through the Oberlin Office of Environmental Sustainability.

“This idea for a shuttle that would do this small loop is something that had come up a couple years ago but never was followed through with,” said Hunsberger. “We knew that there was student interest in the shuttle from that survey, and the idea of encouraging students not to bring cars is also appealing.”

College senior Hannah Elhard, chair of the Public Transportation Working Group and member of Student Senate, further explained the work that went into creating the transit system.

“In the working group we talk about several different things,” said Elhard, “[like] focusing on trying to get this started. That involved trying to find out if the money was there from [the Student Financial Committee], getting quotes from different companies and figuring out which was the most cost-efficient option and then figuring out a contract with the airport shuttle company.”

According to Elhard, the system is only a pilot project, scheduled to run over the next four weeks. It will only continue with the approval of the student body.

“It would be helpful if students could communicate support, so that the Office of Finance knows it would be helpful to continue [the shuttle],” Elhard said. “Those Facebook pages are the best pages to submit feedback if something went wrong or [if] people have a question; myself and other people are constantly checking it just to make sure we catch people’s questions. If people don’t have Facebook, they’re free to e-mail me.”

In addition to the local shuttle, the PTWG is also active in amending the struggling transit system that currently plagues Lorain County.

“In Lorain County, our main focus has been the bus system,” explained Elhard. “The funding [for the] bus system got cut in 2010, so it went from 30-some bus lines to two, so right now there’s a ballot initiative going on in Lorain County to get a tax levy passed for the next five years to have a source of funding for the bus system in Lorain.”

This financial cut — which essentially put an end to Lorain’s 35 years of public transportation for those going to school, work and medical appointments — is due to a recent tax increase. Because public transportation is not a mandated service, the county was able to make this change without legal concerns. The PTWG is currently working with Lorain County Community College’s Student Senate on the process of starting a ballot initiative to address this public disservice.

Oberlin College senior Mia Young, member of PTWG, explained the need for such an initiative in Lorain County.

“One of the key problems has been the fact that we don’t have a dedicated funding source for transportation, so public transit has been competing with health and human services for money, which has been a problem,” Young said.


“There were also rules on what you could use federal transportation money on, like you couldn’t use it for operating costs. So then they relied on state money but they also had to come up with local money, and that was why they kept trying to do these ballot measures, which kept failing.”

While working toward ameliorating the Lorain County Transit System, Elhard and the PTWG are also listening to student suggestions regarding the local shuttle.

“We’re hoping to eventually develop a bus to Cleveland on the weekends and a shuttle to Student Health. Those are things that we’re thinking about but we don’t have concrete plans for yet,” said Elhard.