PARTA sees a slight increase in bus ridership

A+PARTA+bus+pulls+into+the+Kent+State+Student+Center+stop+on+Thursday%2C+Feb.+2%2C+2017.%C2%A0

A PARTA bus pulls into the Kent State Student Center stop on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. 

Sarah Limas

More students are riding PARTA buses this semester, and the crowding on the transportation is becoming a slight issue.

From the beginning of the semester to the end of September, students rode the bus 512,001 times, which is 2,615 more than last year over the same period.

“New apartment buildings have been built, and we have our Central Gateway, so it’s easier for students to get to the Central Gateway than right up on campus,” said Frank Hairston, the director of marketing at PARTA. “There are a lot of students off campus that we feel are not driving to campus — they’re catching the bus.”

The Kent Central Gateway is a parking deck and transit hub at the eastern edge of downtown. Students can pay to park their cars here and take a bus to campus.

The increase in bus riders is good news for PARTA but may be causing issues for some students.

“On cold days, it does get really full,” said Maria Valdez, a junior fashion merchandising major. “It’s usually annoying because you don’t want to be stuck in between a ton of people. But I just deal with it because I’d rather not walk.”

Alayna Isaly, a freshman early childhood education major, said sometimes when the buses pull up to the Student Center they can only let a few students on.

“They’ll have to turn it to ‘not in service’ because they have reached capacity and cannot put any more people on the bus,” Isaly said.

PARTA has received some phone calls from students complaining the buses are too full, Hairston said.The buses can fit up to 70 people, said Carlell Howard, a travel trainer at PARTA.

“We try to stuff them as much as we can,” Howard said. “That way, we could get all of them in one trip, but sometimes there are 200 students waiting at one time at Summit East alone.”

PARTA works with Kent State Parking Services to determine whether more buses are needed.

“Every semester we review what’s happening with the campus bus service,” Larry Emling, the manager of Parking Services said. “We can’t always make changes from fall to spring; that’s more difficult. We talk to them about their observations, what they’re seeing in ridership, what are they recommending, and then we see if it fits into the budget we have to work with.”

Sarah Limas is the construction reporter. Contact her at [email protected]