Bus strike could leave students without rides

Remember the old stories your grandparents told about walking to school, uphill both ways, in the snow? That’s exactly what students may have to look forward to beginning Dec. 1 if the transportation union votes for a walkout.

The members of the local union have been working under the terms of their old contract since it expired June 30. If Port Authority imposes a new contract Dec. 1, union leaders have stated they will likely stage either a strike or lockout, as the proposed contract would greatly favor Port Authority’s wishes, rather than those of the union.

This service disruption would affect thousands of students who rely on the bus to get to classes everyday. And while Carnegie Mellon does have some (very vague) plans in the works to deal with this, nothing is certain and the possible strike is quickly approaching.

The university has sent out an e-mail concerning the possibility of a bus strike, advising people to utilize the ride-sharing website that coordinates carpooling between students. Other than that, there has been no publicity about the strike or the university’s plans for dealing with it. The first problem with the university’s approach is the lack of communication with the student body.

Perhaps the lack of publicity stems from the lack of definitive information to publicize. Currently, the university’s possible plans include expanding the current shuttle service to Greenfield via Squirrel Hill, Regent Square, Oakland, and Shadyside/Bloomfield, along with the addition of an airport shuttle consisting of two buses, one of which will depart every hour from campus. However, these routes, and the additional number of buses that will be necessary, are not set in stone at all. In addition, none of this information was included in the e-mail sent out to the student body. However, there will be a new poster around campus this week that, again, vaguely identifies potential solutions to students’ inaccessibility to transportation, such as biking, walking, or taking the shuttle.

The university also plans to promote SafeWalk as an alternative, though this too was not mentioned in the e-mail. However, SafeWalk is underutilized and understaffed, and even with the addition of campus police officers, could not take on all the students that will be without transportation if the buses strike.

Maybe the university doesn’t realize how many students take buses to get to and from classes every day, and that the alternatives that they have recently begun to plan aren’t enough to take on the students displaced by the bus strike. Regardless, they need to quickly take another look at the situation and put together a concrete plan for getting students to and from classes without the help of Port Authority.