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Shuttles Get Fresh Look

Campus buses run cleaner, and routes have been improved

October 12, 2011 | by Stephen Anzaldi
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Check out Northwestern University’s shuttle service this fall. The buses are bigger and better. Location tracking and routing are greatly enhanced. And there’s even a diesel/hybrid model (look for the bus with the raised battery pack in the rear).

The new vehicles burn fuel much cleaner than the previous fleet, with engines and exhaust systems that meet 2010 EPA emission standards.

The hybrid is especially cleaner and quieter during acceleration and is being tested on the Ryan Field route in the morning and the Evanston Loop in the evening.

The improvements came out of a new contract with The Free Enterprise System, Inc.

Ridership on all campus shuttle routes continues to rise. Total one-way rides on the intercampus route exceeded 600,000 in fiscal year 2011, up from 546,000 in 2010. The upward trend in ridership is due to improved communication through the Web, smart phones and social media, according to Brian Peters, director of University Services.

Bus tracker features and an iPhone app were introduced last year. This year riders can scan a QR code off the shuttle sign with their smart phone and go directly to a shuttle tracker that shows where the next approaching bus is on the route.

"The bus tracker feature and iPhone app have been very popular," Peters said. "The more avenues we have to share information, the better the rider experience.”

Based on feedback from Associated Student Government, the City of Evanston and the CTA, University Services has made a number of route improvements.

• The Ryan Field shuttle has been rerouted further south on Ridge Avenue to accommodate students living south of campus and help alleviate intercampus shuttle capacity issues at the Chicago/Davis stop.

• All shuttle schedules have been tweaked so buses are more spread-out and there are fewer back-to-back buses running along Sheridan Road.

• University Services has launched a construction news page to summarize late-breaking changes, reroutes and updates to the ongoing Evanston sewer project.

• Because the intercampus shuttle operates at maximum capacity for a number of rush hour runs, riders are required to show a valid WildCARD. Expired cards will not be accepted.

• A second Frostbite shuttle has been introduced for winter. The service provides transport between north and south campus, along Sheridan Road, and operates in conjunction with the Evanston Frostbite, between campus and nearby neighborhoods on a route similar to the Evanston Loop route.

For More Information

Find a list of shuttles and maps.

Using a mobile device? Track all shuttles (except Frostbite Sheridan) on the new mobile shuttle tracker on the Northwestern mobile app, or go to the shuttle tracker online.

Topics: University News