The Atlantic Shuttle gets the green light


Max Jackson

The Atlantic Shuttle started its trial run Thursday, Feb. 12. Max Jackson | Photo Editor

Emily Creighton, Features Editor

The Atlantic Shuttle — Florida Atlantic’s new student-friendly transportation system — started its trial run Thursday, Feb. 12.

The shuttle, which is owned by A1A Airport and Limousine Service, is a project by Student Body President Michael Cepeda who, with the help of FAU juniors Taylor Bergman and Brittany Silva, revamped the concept of a “safe ride program.”

Bergman and Silva were motivated to propose the shuttle idea after realizing the presence and danger of drinking and driving around campus. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 3,360,000 college students, ages 18 to 24, drive drunk every year.

Bergman said she hopes “the trolley [shuttle] will not only prevent students from legal trouble, but it will overall make Boca a safer community.”

Cepeda recalled, “[Planning] it goes back to like October… We had two students [Bergman and Silva] approach me about an idea to have a safe ride program like UCF, FSU and UF have.”

He was prepared for this to be a problematic venture though, facing obstacles including finding an approved vendor, dealing with legal arrangements, and getting approval from administration. “I told them [Bergman and Silva] that there’s a lot of red tape; there’s a lot of potential problems to getting that to happen. I laid it out for them and they’re like, ‘Okay. We’re gonna keep looking into it.’ I was like, ‘Perfect.’ At that time I was currently looking into a shuttle to go to the beach, so I said, ‘Hey. Let’s work together. Maybe this could be something that we can kill two birds with one stone.’”

In the end, everything was worked out and the shuttle is now available for Owl Card carrying students and will follow two routes, a day route and a night route, during its trial period this semester. “[It will run] every hour on the hour,” said Brittany Silva. “The trolley [shuttle] will take students to and from the beach on the weekend, and on Thursdays and Fridays it has routes to Mizner Park, Boca Raton Town Center Mall, McDonald’s, as well as on-campus housing.”

While Cepeda expects what he refers to as a “soft opening” — the weeks leading up to Spring Break — the shuttle will be heavily promoted via social media. This time will also be used to answer questions regarding route times and what stops actually worked. More information can also be found on The Atlantic Shuttle Facebook page.

Project funding will come out of Student Government Activity and Service Fees, a component of tuition paid by each student that is collected by FAU’s Board of Trustees and used towards student organizations, and at a seemingly low price tag in Cepeda’s opinion. “It’s about $20,000 for the semester, but it’s gonna be about $40,000 for a whole year… Looking at it in the big picture, it’s not really a lot of money for the service that we’re getting.”

Max Jackson | Photo Editor
Max Jackson | Photo Editor

In comparison, 2014-2015 A&S Fees designated $114,053 for Night Owls, FAU’s nightly, on campus golf cart service for students, for the year. Cepeda also shared that $40,000 has been added to the president’s projects account for next year to cover the shuttle’s operational costs.

Students like senior Ria Sitahal and sophomore Shanice Skyers feel that the program is not worth the money though, fearing that over time the new program will raise the price of tuition. “Every year tuition has been going up since I’ve been here and I’ve been here for a while. For people that live on campus, it’s a worth-while deal, but a lot of people are commuters anyways,” said Sitahal.

According to the 2013-2014 Common Data Set, 94 percent of FAU undergraduate students are commuters, but those who live on campus may still benefit from the shuttle.

Freshman Fagnole Jean-Baptist said, “It would definitely be [useful] … Let’s say I didn’t have a car and I wanted to go out. It’d be great for people who don’t have a vehicle or transportation.”

Time will tell whether or not the Atlantic Shuttle is an improvement for FAU students and campus life. As for now, President Cepeda is eager to see how the university community reacts to the new program, saying, “This is student government in action.”