Logan Hickman / Lantern reporter
Looking at a week with temperatures in the upper teens and low 20s, it’s no wonder some students are flocking to ride the Campus Area Bus Service.
Temperatures hovered far below freezing Tuesday and dipped into single digits on the thermometer as students returned to classes after a long weekend. While some Ohio K-12 schools got two-hour delays to start the day, class at OSU continued as scheduled.
With an expected temperature of 21 degrees and snow showers in the afternoon Wednesday, the cold weather is here to stay – at least for now.
But OSU students aren’t new to navigating campus in the cold, and stats from Transportation and Traffic Management show that the number of CABS riders typically peaks in the winter months.
Monthly CABS ridership increases by about 15 percent in January and February compared to other months in the year, said Lindsay Komlanc, spokeswoman for OSU’s Administration and Planning in an email. However, regular CABS riders said the increase in ridership has buses fuller, leaving little room to stand.
“I’ve definitely had plenty of times when I’ve been standing and the bus driver will make an abrupt stop and everyone is toppling all over each other,” said Rachael Coleman, a third-year in mathematics.
Other CABS riders said they are concerned about the safety of riding crowded buses.
“It can be dangerous. I’ve seen times when people have actually gone down the (bus) stairs. If you push on those doors they’ll just open, so you could fall out of the bus,” said Jamie Zumach, a second-year in food science and technology.
Zumach said she is a daily rider of the Buckeye Village, Campus Loop North and the North Express buses. Zumach also said she rarely has room to stand.
North Express bus driver and 30-year veteran Central Ohio Transit Authority bus driver, H. E. Ivory, attributes the crowded buses to the colder weather. Ivory said there is no maximum number of people who can ride the bus at one time, and that by law, as long as passengers are behind the line located on the floor by the driver’s seat, it does not matter how many passengers are on the bus. Ivory said he tries to keep his crowded buses safe.
“What I do personally, when students get on the bus, if the bus is already seated and I’m really starting to pack them in, I ask students to double up when standing in the aisles so more people can get on.”
Even though there are on-board safety measures such as handrails, Ivory said crowded buses are avoidable, especially when riding the CABS North Express route.
Ivory said because the North Express leaves West Campus every five minutes during peak hours, there are plenty of buses students can ride if they do not want to ride a crowded one. Peak hours are weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Komlanc said in an email that North Express has the highest ridership, followed by Campus Loop South, Campus Loop North and East Residential.
Morgan Trussel, a second-year in human development and family science, frequently rides the East Residential bus and said there is too much demand for the buses.
“The East Residential is always full, especially until kids stop going to classes. There needs to be more in circulation,” she said.
Komlanc said CABS routes and service areas are specifically planned based on a need for service in the area. Transportation and Traffic Management analyzes ridership numbers, length of route, stops on route and service time throughout the day to determine the most efficient number of buses and hours of operation to best serve a particular route, Komlanc said in an email.
While some students said they felt limited in the number of buses offered for each route, Komlanc said routes cannot be compared directly.
“To help understand the level of service the East Residential route currently receives, we run five buses and provide 61 hours of service per day on the North Express route, which has the highest ridership of all of the routes,” Komlanc said in an email. “We run four buses during the peak period of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and one bus during the rest of the service hours, providing a total of 54 service hours per day for the East Residential route, which as one can see, is a highly resourced route. All routes are operated with the goal of having no more than nine minutes between buses during peak hours.”
To ensure the safety of riders, CABS drivers are trained in the general operation of the bus as well as in safe operation of the vehicle. Transportation and Traffic Management said bus drivers and on-board audio messages reinforce the importance for riders to use the provided handrails and to stand behind clearly marked lines on the floor of the bus in order to ride.
To further ensure students’ safety and meet the needs of the university community, the East Residential bus runs extended, late-night weekend hours due to a partnership between CABS and Undergraduate Student Government. The East Residential will run until 2 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays every 30 minutes.
CABS owns 37 transit buses and employs 118 drivers. These numbers vary slightly depending on the season.