The Mills shuttle is an important resource for students without cars, but many question its effectiveness. Though the shuttle is advertised as a reliable way to get off and on campus, many have realized this is not so, due to lack of seating and stops, and low frequency.
Niviece Robinson, assistant director of Public Safety, said the primary purpose of the shuttle “is to transport people to the Tang Center. It is also for people to get to and from classes, [mainly cross-registered at UC Berkeley].”
Robinson added, “The popularity of the shuttle and overall student enrollment has gone up within the past two years. Two years ago, we didn’t have any of these problems.”
But students pointed out that the shuttle does little to ease students’ dependence on cars to get on and off campus, failing to address the lack of on-campus parking and the College’s commitment to increase environmentalism and sustainability.
“If Mills wants to aid in the greening of its community, I’d suggest a strong revamp of the current shuttle policies,” wrote first year graduate student Cynthia Popper in an email.
“Every hour is far too infrequent to make the shuttle a useable transport option.”
Others noted up to two-hour gaps between some shuttle runs. Lynette Arnold, a commuting senior, said, “Currently, there is no trip from Berkeley to Mills between 10 a.m. and noon.”
Others’ responses highlighted lack of space as a major problem, especially at night.
“At a capacity of 16-18, this means only these students will make their class or BART [train] on time,” wrote Popper.
Robinson stressed the importance of students’ familiarity with public transit, especially 57 bus line, transbay lines NL and NX and the all-night bus 805, which all stop directly in front of Mills College.
“Everybody should familiarize themselves with the area and know how to get back to campus,” she said. “The shuttle is a convenience, but you should be aware of your surroundings.”
Frances Campbell, a commuting junior, wrote that when the shuttle hasn’t arrived on time or at all, she has missed classes or been late. She also wondered why Rockridge is the only BART station stop.
“I do not see why the shuttle cannot go to Fruitvale as well as Rockridge,” she wrote. “Fruitvale is closer to Mills and less expensive of a BART ride.”
Lynette Arnold also questioned the choice and lack of stops. “To extend the existing shuttle service so that it works for more members of the campus community,” she wrote, “the College should add a more central Oakland stop, perhaps in Lake Merritt.”
Robinson said additional stops must be approved by the Technical Advisory Committee, composed of AC Transit and city of Oakland representatives.
“Whenever we add more stops or hours we have to consider the drivers’ hours. They have to log all their hours and must have certain times for breaks,” said Robinson.
To add stops at the Fruitvale or Oakland Coliseum BART, AC Transit must give permission for a pull-over space, she said.
“We must do this for any stop, but we also have to consider the crime rate of the area. The Oakland Coliseum is busy because of the A’s games,” Robinson said. “The Rockridge BART station is the safest and most convenient at this time.”
Dannan Baker, a freshwoman who uses the shuttle for recreation, wrote that the shuttle staff “is doing as good of a job as they are capable of. But, if the school is going to keep promoting it as a reliable means to get off campus, they need to either get bigger shuttles or make them more frequent.”