Business students frustrated with shuttle reliability, parking insufficiencies


Alexandria Leland

The Clark City Center is located in the heart of downtown Utica where business students take classes at the Brvenik Center for Business.

Mickale Thompson, News Editor

Bailey Lagoe, a business management student, was on her way back from class at the Robert Brvenik Center for Business  for Business located in downtown Utica last semester when she and another student were stopped by courthouse security officers because someone had hit their car parked in the courthouse visitor parking lot.

After being escorted into the Utica Federal Courthouse behind the Clark City Center the officers realized that Bailey and the student weren’t permitted to be parked in the courthouse parking lot.

“We had to wait in the lobby while the officer decided whether to write a ticket or not to the lady who hit us or to us for being parked in a parking lot we weren’t supposed to,” Bailey said. “However no one got a ticket [but] I felt frustrated because it took him a very long time to write up the incident report”

On Feb. 10, the School of Business and Justice Studies sent out a campus-wide email informing students that the Oneida County Executive’s Office has notified the school that business students and some suspected faculty have been parking in the courthouse visitor lot. 

The email made it clear that the parking lot is for people doing business in the courthouse and not a public parking lot and that there are no designated student parking spots near the business center. The County Executive’s office has issued that it plans to start towing vehicles that are not supposed to be parked there. 

“We had gotten that contact as a courtesy heads up from the County Executive’s Office and that’s what prompted us to let people know,” Dean of Business and  Justice Studies Stephanie Nesbitt said. “They had taken steps to post signs several weeks ago to say that the parking was for courthouse business only and that it didn’t seem to be curbing the problem. The parking downtown is pretty limited and they had to be sure that when people are going in to do courthouse business that [they] actually can find a place to park.” 

The bus shuttle is scheduled to run in 15-minute periods for arrival and drop-off to and from the business center. Increasingly students have resorted to driving downtown for class because some say the shuttle has proven to not be the most consistent form of transportation. 

Emily Dygert, a business management major, is one of the students who stopped taking the shuttle bus and opted to drive instead. She said at times the shuttle was late and inconvenient for her because she had to drive to campus to take the bus as a commuter student. 

“It didn’t make sense for me to drive to campus and then get on the bus,” Dygert said. “It actually takes me less time to get to the downtown campus than it does to get to the main campus.”

Damian Bruce, a sports management student, said the shuttle is a great resource for students but its reliability is another question. Bruce said at times he was always late for class or would have to wait long periods for the shuttle after class.

“I remember [one] time I was waiting outside in the freezing cold for 45 minutes for the bus to arrive at the business center,” Bruce said. “I literally timed it because after 20 minutes [I wanted to see] how long it would take. So from my personal experience, I hated it.”

The university is exploring ways to make the transit from campus to the downtown area more convenient and is close to implementing a campus bus software program by TransLoc used by other universities such as Colgate University.

The GPS system will have a tracker allowing students to monitor the bus shuttle in real-time on their phones and is currently working with Integrated Information Technology Services (IITS) to install the new software in the main lounge on the business center television. 

“The only thing that we’re not sure that the bus can do is alert us,” Vice President of Facilities and Emergency Management Shad Crowe said. “We would like to have a timer that says [the bus] arrived [at a certain time] and some type of alert notice on their phones telling students that the bus is about to leave.” 

The contractual agreement between the University and the Cedar Bus Company is up for RFP (Request for Proposal) in the near future.

Sharena White, the bus company’s operations manager, said the company is working to continue to find ways to help students succeed. 

“We work collectively to identify and address challenges and possibilities for improvements and have a strong foundation rooted in excellent communication,” White said. “We take pride in executing in excellence and strive to do so daily with our resources.”

According to Nesbitt, working with the city of Utica to offer students a semester-by-semester parking pass for one of the Downtown Utica parking garages is one idea to help mitigate parking insufficiencies. However, conversations with the city have not started yet. 

“All of the garages are not fully repaired but it is a conversation that [Shad Crowe] and I have talked about starting with the city to see if we can move towards that,” Nesbitt said.

Still, Dygert hoped that there would have been more consideration placed into securing parking spots for students closer to the building before deciding to move business classes downtown.

“The shuttle is really not that reliable and it’s really inconvenient for a lot of students, especially upperclassmen that don’t live on campus,” Dygert said. “I don’t feel safe parking in the parking garages and then having to walk that far by myself. I constantly hear about people walking up to students and asking them for money when they’re walking to the building and it isn’t safe.”  

Nesbitt said parking in the downtown area has been an issue since day one. However, students can take comfort in knowing that the area of the city is a safe place. 

“That area of the city is the safest area of the city by all statistics and measures that the Utica Police Department keeps,” Nesbitt said. “Statistically speaking it’s the safest part of the city that the up can be in.”