New location of North Campus bus stop is an inconvenience, students say.
The North Campus bus stop has a new location behind Olney Hall, and students say they are not happy about it. But according to Nicholas Piscitello, the associate director of administrative services, the city forced the university to move its stop because of traffic concerns.
Rachel Taylor, a junior marketing major, said the new stop location is “ridiculous.” Taylor said she hates it, and the wait times have increased.
When Piscitello took over transportation in 2011, there were five large buses running and four vans. Today, the university has 12 large buses and eight, sometimes nine vans per day. Due to the expansion, the city said stopping on University Avenue was a problem.
“The city came to the university and said that the stop on University Avenue was not going to work anymore,” Piscitello said.
Three years ago the university started to look for a new location, he said. The university hired a consultant and discussed several options including a cutout like South Campus. The proximity of the buildings and intersections, however, made that impossible, Piscitello said.
Trying to create a new stop on University Avenue would have blocked buildings or there would not have been enough room for a sidewalk, according to Piscitello. The university discussed buying property or utilizing the parking at Cumnock Hall but could not find a space that fit their transportation needs.
The university considered the location behind Olney Hall and another location on Riverside Street near the athletic complex, according to Piscitello, but ultimately decided on the Olney Hall location because it was much closer than the other option. But Piscitello knew the transition would not be smooth.
The high volume of traffic on Riverside Street makes it difficult for the buses to turn in and out of the parking lot. The traffic and new location also add travel time to the routes which means a longer wait for buses.
Piscitello said they did not like the location for these reasons, but other locations had “critical flaws” and this was the best choice.
These challenges are prompting complaints from students who are experiencing a longer walk to and from the bus stop and an increase in wait time for transportation.
Harrison Kelly, a senior computer science major says he does not agree with the new location. “The traffic on University Avenue is much better than Riverside,” he said.
Andy Laurent, a junior business major also said that the traffic is much heavier on Riverside and the new location of the bus stop is an inconvenience. He said the new location is “more of a walk and more of a wait.”
The new bus stop decision was made in conjunction with a city project that will make modifications to the intersection of Riverside Street and University Avenue. The university convinced the city to delay that project until next summer to keep traffic to a minimum on Riverside Street during the school year.
Piscitello said that university transportation faces “the same challenges as everyone else who has to drive in Lowell” plus the added issue of weight limits due to lack of maintenance on some local bridges. He said he understands the frustration and that he “expects this year to be challenging, but next year to be a little better.”