ACTC task force discusses transportation options

An Associated Colleges of The Twin Cities (ACTC) Transportation Task Force met in late October to discuss transportation needs of ACTC students and to enhance communication about transportation between the involved colleges.

ACTC Project Specialist Stephanie Zimmerman said that the task force meeting was essentially an “exchange of data to understand what happens on each campus.”

“[They’re] interested in talking about transportation across the campuses,” she said, “making it better for students.”

The task force is comprised of one or two staff member from each campus. Macalester’s representatives are Pratik Singh, Reservations and Information Desk Manager, and Coco Du, Associate Director of Residential Life. Zimmerman said that the task force will likely meet in January and again in the second semester to further the transportation talks.

In response to the rumor that Macalester and other institutions will be offering students Metro passes as a substitute for the ACTC shuttle system, Zimmerman said that conversations about the subject were “totally possible,” though no changes have been set in motion yet.

“I don’t think there are any serious or tangible conversation about this,” she said. “No one has said that they would pull out of the service.”

Macalester’s Vice President for Student Affairs Laurie Hamrie corroborated this statement.

“Mac will not discontinue the ACTC bus unless the ACTC office and five schools decide to eliminate the service,” she said.

The shuttle depends on the financial backing of institutions to keep running. This semester, Macalester was charged a price of seven dollars for every student at Macalester to keep the shuttle running.

Currently, the ACTC shuttle connects Macalester, Hamline, St. Thomas, and St. Kate’s via one bus line and St. Thomas, St. Kate’s, and Augsburg via a second. The shuttle runs from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the first line and from 7:00 a.m. to 10:05 p.m. on the second. While Zimmerman said that ACTC could not accurately count the total number of people who used the bus every semester, estimates from the spring of 2013 showed that between 260 to 300 students used the shuttle every day.

Zoe Kulik ’16 is a Macalester student currently taking American Sign Language classes at St. Kate’s. Although she had initially taken the bus, she discovered that the shuttle system was not ideal for her travel. Macalester is the furthest from St. Kate’s on the route going one way, so one trip to St. Kate’s takes close to an hour, while the trip back to Mac takes only about 10 minutes.

“I bike there as long as I can,” Kulik said. “Unless ACTC is willing to get a route where buses go both ways, I don’t take the bus.” Zimmerman said these problems were being considered.

“I think this is one of the reasons [ACTC] has convened the task force,” she said, saying that the task force was trying to identify and solve issues with ACTC transportation.

“It might also be that people are starting to ask that question in relation to the light rail,” she said when asked about the possibility of using public transport over the shuttle, mentioning the new light rail line that will open in 2014.

“There’s a lot of conversation about transportation right now,” said Zimmerman.