It is 8:29 p.m. on a Saturday night and the shuttle driver waits diligently for any more students to arrive for their free trip downtown. Right on the dot of 8:30 p.m., it is clear that I will be the shuttle’s only passenger. The ride goes along smoothly down Cerrillos Road and after a few more turns through a more or less bustling downtown the shuttle arrives at the Downtown Transit Center. No one is waiting to take the shuttle back to campus.
Since the beginning of the Santa Fe Shuttle Pilot Project on Sept 18, the service has run more or less continuously every Thursday through Saturday to pick students up every 30 minutes from 6:30-10:30 p.m. There is no fare; simply hop onboard and you can bridge the gap between campus and the heart of the city itself. The Santa Fe City Council plans to use this project, which is scheduled to continue through the end of the semester, to determine the viability of continuing or even expanding the service.
Based on data sent by Ken Smithson, director of Operations and Maintenance with Santa Fe Trails, the ridership on any given night tends to vary greatly. While some Friday nights see numbers of student riders reaching a total of 145, there are several Thursday nights and even Saturdays during which the shuttle will report no passengers throughout the night.
In an interview with SFUAD Assistant Director of Campus Life David DeVillier, he said the school believes the project is a “wonderful service for our students” and that “We [SFUAD Campus Life] think that ridership will increase as enrollment increases.”
At the end of the semester, the city will collect data on total ridership as well as other information to determine whether or not to continue the shuttle service or even expand its hours. Matt Ross, the city’s public information officer, said during a phone interview that there are currently no concrete plans as to data collection or even a date when a decision will take place. He believed that at some point in the near future on-campus surveys are “certainly a possibility” in order to obtain useful information for the City Council.