Bus brigade, sunshine light up a quiet Friday

UMSL students and staff (from left) Kristin Williams, Yolanda Weathersby, Racheal White, Meredith Muehler and Paige Collins discuss the use of GPS on shuttle buses with Jeff Schwepher of the First Student bus company. The UMSL community had the opportunity Friday to weigh in selecting a shuttle bus company for campus.

They did everything but kick the tires. Students, staff members and administrators spent two hours Friday climbing in and out of seven buses listening to sales pitches and asking questions of executives and drivers from three different companies.

The “test-the-buses” event was one of the last steps in selecting a company to supply daily and special event transportation on the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ 350-acre campus. Three bus companies – Express Transportation Services, the current contractor; First Student; and Saint Louis Transportation – are finalists in the bid process for a four-year contract.

Police Chief Forrest Van Ness and Lt. Charles Roeseler, who oversees transportation services on campus, said they invited the companies to campus so that students could preview the busses and have a voice in the final selection.

“Most of the complaints we get are not about the buses, but the drivers,” said Roeseler. “The interpersonal skills of the drivers may seem like a small thing in such a big contract, but it’s the source of most complaints. We’re looking for drivers who are courteous and professional.”

“The good thing about contract limits is that it forces us to go out and see what the market provides,” Van Ness said.

And most everyone seemed to like what they saw.

One group of staff and students watched as a global positioning system was demonstrated. The GPS helps the company and UMSL’s police department track the buses on campus.

Roeseler said he met with students during the fall semester who rode the shuttle buses regularly and the new contract will reflect their concerns.

“The buses will have forward and rear facing cameras to enhance passenger safety,” Roeseler said. “They also will be marked with color-coded placards that match the schedules and indicate the route.”

Each of the companies addressed disability access, a major issue for the campus, with ramps or lifts. And one bus received considerable more attention than others. The large bus with black-tinted windows, leather seats, on-board computers, flat-screen TV and other amenities was billed as a “mobile classroom.”

Final decisions on the contract must be made by Jan. 18. The contract commences Feb. 1 and the company will have 90 days to supply UMSL with four new buses.


Short URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/?p=17574