Park and Ride, ATA shuttles discontinued on campus for spring semester

The ATA bus makes its route through the roundabout near the business building on March 6, 2020. Beginning in the spring 2021semester, Park and Ride services, as well as ATA shuttles, will not be available on campus. (File photo by Julie Freijat | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State Parking Services is discontinuing its Park and Ride and Union Express shuttles for the spring 2021 semester.

Director of parking and transport Jeff Barnes said this decision comes as the result of reduced ridership and budget reductions.

“With the pandemic reducing the number of people on campus, ridership was down to less than 25 percent of what the numbers were for the same time period in 2019,” Barnes said.

Jardine residents utilizing the shuttles to get to class were the programs’ largest users, Barnes said.

In the spring, these residents will need to find other ways to get to campus.

“I think the biggest change is for the Jardine residents that rode the shuttle to campus,” Barnes said. “That option won’t be there, so if they own a vehicle and permit, they will be allowed to drive down and park in the O and T lots as well as their normal J and Z lots during this period.”

With the exception of Jardine residents, Barnes said the lack of shuttle services likely won’t be a big deal for most students.

“I believe that with the reduced campus population, it shouldn’t have much of an impact,” Barnes said. “With fewer students on campus currently, this change does not seem that it will have a significant impact.”

Jake Schwartzkopf, sophomore in mechanical engineering, said he isn’t so sure the impact will be as minimal as Barnes thinks.

“Without the shuttles, it will require more people to find alternative methods for those without current permits and make it slightly more difficult for some to get to campus,” Schwartzkopf said.

Barnes said without outside funding, Parking Services struggled to pay for the shuttles and Park and Ride this semester.

“Parking Services receives no revenue from tuition, student fees or state funding,” Barnes said. “We generate our revenue through permit sales, citation revenue and meter and timed stall revenue. We have been paying Riley County ATA Bus for the cost of the Park and Ride as well as contributing to allow students, faculty and staff to ride the city routes for free. We just couldn’t afford to do that this semester.”

Gavin Kirchmer, freshman in business, said the lack of shuttles this spring could put some students in a tough spot.

“It is not a great situation to be in, especially for those who relied on the shuttles to get to campus,” Kirchmer said. “But with them allowing those with permits to begin parking in other areas, it does help improve the issue.”

Despite the lack of shuttles on campus, the ATA Bus will still stop at Tunstall Circle.

As of now, Parking Services plans to withhold its shuttle services only for the spring semester and bring them back next fall.