On Tuesday, there was a post on Gawker in response to an article in WSN about the bus situation on campus. Basically, WSN reported that students complain that NYU bus drivers are often late or don’t show up, and that the Water Street bus is so crowded they have to stand on the stairs while they travel. In its article, Gawker highlighted the unsafe conditions of an overcrowded bus, and mocked NYU students for being snobbish and lazy. While the Gawker post is a little extreme (as they tend to be), I’m sure everyone who has used NYU transportation has a horror story about a bus being late or overcrowded, or even breaking down in the middle of the FDR.
What both pieces fail to mention, is something that I learned two years ago from a bus driver when a bus i was on broke down halfway between campus and Water Street: that NYU does not actually run the buses. They contract it out to another company. Things may have changed in the past two years (and the NYU campus transportation site gives no indication of this arrangement), but it certainly could be a factor in the problems the bus system has.
The bus driver’s biggest complaint was that the company has little motivation to repair buses or even maintain them properly. I don’t think this is a major issue, although no one wants to be on the bus that breaks down. Another possibility with using an outside company is that maybe NYU isn’t hiring the one hiring the drivers. While I’ve had good experiences with most drivers, there are one or two that I don’t trust behind the wheel of a bus. (Like the ones who take the FDR, for example. Those buses were not made for highway driving.)
I have to agree with Gawker that with all the money we pay NYU should be able to come up with a better system. That being said, overall the buses’ problems are no more than a necessary inconvenience, and there have been some improvements. Remember when the trolleys didn’t have seat cushions? There are also more buses at peak times than there were two years ago and sometimes I think there are more buses on the A route than scheduled. All transportation in New York is outdated and sometimes unreliable – why would we expect NYU to be any different?