Weather causes transit delays for some students

University students have enjoyed snowless roads for the last few weeks, but Monday provided a wake-up call reminding the campus of Minnesota winter weather.

Sarah Neusser, a history junior, watched four campus shuttles pass her on the St. Paul campus Monday morning before one finally stopped to pick her up.

“(The buses) were all skipping that stop so they could catch up,” she said. “They were all backed up on top of each other.”

Mary Sienko, marketing manager for Parking and Transportation Services, said her department hadn’t received any complaints about the buses on Monday.

“They run on schedule as much as they can,” she said. “The weather will play into any kind of traffic buildups on the road.”

Campus buses also primarily run on city- and county-owned streets, so the University has no control over the plowing, she said.

Erik Bakke, computer science senior, said the buses hadn’t been an issue for him, but he usually comes a few minutes early anyway.

Campus shuttle driver Eric Eldredge said while the snow was melting as it hit the ground, it’s still important to drive with caution.

“(The buses) usually run late when the snow’s bad,” he said. “There’s been a lot worse snow storms in the past.”

The drivers of campus shuttles are all contracted through First Transit.

Beverly Edwards, vice president of central region for First Transit, said all drivers are trained 75 hours before driving.

“It’s at the University’s discretion whether we will operate,” she said. “Typically, even if it’s bad, there’s the desire to offer service by the University.”

First Transit teaches its drivers in a specialized curriculum. Specifics for winter driving are covered in this system, Edwards said – things like “seeing the big picture, giving them increased following distance and reduce their speed as well to handle these conditions,” she said.

Sienko said with weather that will cause traffic to slow, “you should always allow more time -that’s just plain and simple.”