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Do the Loop no more

February 25th, 2010

Shortly after celebrating its one-year anniversary, the West Loop Shuttle has given its last ride.

The West Loop Shuttle was introduced in the 2009 spring semester, in addition to the already existent East Loop Shuttle. The Office of Residence Life and the Student Union teamed up to organize a weekend shuttle service to allow students without vehicles the chance to get off campus and explore the greater Cleveland area.

Running Fridays from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m., the program was created to provide transportation for students and to encourage students to stay on campus during the weekend.

“Shuttle destinations were decided in correlation with the Student Savings Program [through which businesses offer discounts to students] as well as by trying to discern what venues are attractive to students,” said Student Union Executive Vice President sophomore Rita Rochford.

The East Loop Shuttle travels to destinations including Beachwood Place Mall, Richmond Town Square and Legacy Village. Students were able to travel to additional destinations such as Coventry, Little Italy and University Circle through the West Loop Shuttle.

The West Loop route was slow to gain popularity, but students seemed receptive to the additional route.

“I thought it was great to experience other aspects of the area, especially in Coventry, which has a wide variety of cultural prospects,” said junior Ariel Johnson.

However, due to a tight budget and insufficient funds from the Student Activity Fee, the low ridership was enough to have the $1,300 week route terminated for the remainder of the year.

Ridership for the West Loop has declined since Sept., during which the shuttle had 271 drop-offs, its highest number of riders. The most recent record is from Dec., during which the West Loop dropped off only 78 people.

Comparitively, the East Loop has had approximately between 252 and 632 riders.

“Whenever I would ride the West Loop, the only passengers would usually be me and whoever I was with,” said Johnson. “I think that the shuttle is a great alternative for students without cars and would hate to see it lost.”

In order to encourage more students to  ride the shuttle program, Residence Life and the Student Union surveyed riders and provided promotional giveaways. However, these attempts were unable attract enough students to the West Loop shuttle.

While the West Loop is out of service, Student Union plans to re-evaluate the shuttle.

“During this time, we hope to analyze and redesign the West Loop Program to return in the Fall as a program that is more appealing to the students,” said Rochford.

Although there will be no alternative to the West Loop added this year, both the East Loop and Express Shuttles will continue to run uninterrupted.