Traveling Around Campus: Student Desires and Transportation Realities


By Stephanie Hong, News Writer


The University of Utah’s main campus in Salt Lake City covers 1,534 acres of land and students use various means to get around it. The U has Utah Transit Authority TRAX and buses, SafeRide and campus shuttles as transportation.

According to Chad Larsen, associate director in U Commuter Services, they currently have 10 routes with approximately 23 buses operating.

U student Jasper Lee said normally if he wants to get around campus he takes the campus shuttle because it is right in front of his dorm, making it convenient.

“However, on the campus shuttle, students have to wear masks every time I get on the bus,” he said. “I do have the anxiety of being with a lot of strangers who might have COVID-19, yet I get along with it easily since I know that I’ll be hopping off soon.”

For Tatum Lee, another U student, she struggles with bus routes because they are not convenient to take.

“If I were to go to class, there is only one bus route that goes to the building, and it takes almost half an hour to get there because of bus detours,” Lee said. “The situation gets worse if I miss it since I have to wait [an] extra 10 minutes for the next one.”

Larsen said there are a couple of factors that determine the routes.

“For ridership, we have some buses equipped with automatic passenger counters that provide where passengers board and depart,” he said. “To meet the coverage and frequency, since COVID, our goal is to reduce the number of passengers on a bus by increasing the frequency of buses on a limited number of routes.”

Four to five routes are funded by other university departments and the total weekly ridership is 17,712 passengers, according to Larsen.

SafeRide is operated between 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on weekdays.

“I believe SafeRide is an incredibly convenient service,” Lee said. “Whenever I study in the library, my studies normally end around 11 p.m. Without SafeRide, it would have been so difficult for me to get to my dorm.”

However, Lee says that on the weekends, traveling around campus is more difficult.

“When preparing for exams, I go to the library on the weekends, however, it is hard to travel to the library from my dorm because every transportation service inside the campus, including the SafeRide, is out of service,” she said. “Also, on weekdays between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., it is really hard to request a ride since every student on campus is trying to get to their own destination.”

Larsen said that currently, commuter services operates the SafeRide on weekdays only because they are limited in several aspects.

“Commuter services would need to evaluate funding, ridership demand, and staffing,” he said. “Also, we are limited because we need to hire 10-20 drivers.”

According to the commuter services website, the UTA transit services that can be used on campus include buses and TRAX.

“If students utilize their UCard pass on UTA, they have many options across the Wasatch Front,” Larsen said. “Campus Shuttles has a University Hospital route that provides service to building 102, 250 Tower, and BSB. The SafeRide can take students to Block 44 residential housing on 380 S 400 east.”

Additionally, Larsen said the university just finished a transportation hub study that identified key locations for UTA routes and campus shuttle routes to meet.

“When these hubs are built, some routes will need to change to support UTA transit passengers to get to their final destinations,” he said. “Ridership has increased since COVID, but we have not reached pre-COVID ridership.”

For more information about campus transportation, please visit the commuter services website.


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