Ah, fall. It’s the time of turning leaves, dwindling sunlight, and 8 a.m. classes. As hard as it is to crawl out of bed some mornings, it can be even harder to make it to class on time. Whether you’re frantically finding a parking spot or hoofing it from your dorm to the far reaches of campus, there may be a better way to get to where you’re going. Western Washington University and the Whatcom Transportation Authority are here to help you out with specialized routes and the intercampus Daytime Shuttle.
The return of fall and the Western academic year mean more
reasons to leave your car keys at home and use public transportation. For starters, WTA has revamped its entire route system to include the “GO Lines,” bus routes that offer service every fifteen minutes along corridors with heavy transit ridership.
Effective August 1, there are now three new GO Line routes, the Gold, Green, and Blue lines.
The Blue line has particular significance to Western students. It runs from the Bellingham bus station through Western and ultimately to 21st St. “The Blue line simplifies the bus schedules between downtown and Western,” said Carol Berry, Western’s Alternative Transportation coordinator.
The Lincoln Creek Transportation Center Park and Ride also simplifies students’ transportation needs, offering students an option other than driving to campus and finding a place to park or buying a parking permit. Moved to Lincoln Creek last academic year, the new park and ride provides buses every ten minutes to Western during the fall, winter, and spring academic quarters.
Both the Blue line and the buses from the Lincoln Creek Park and Ride, along with all of the WTA’s routes, cost fifty cents to ride. Students, however, have another option. The Viking Xpress Pass can be purchased for $20 per academic quarter or $50 for the academic year. You can buy an Xpress Pass at the Parking and Transportation Services building south of the Wade King Student Recreation Center. The Xpress Pass provides unlimited rides on all WTA routes.
Once you get on campus, you can still get around quickly and easily with the Daytime Shuttle. Tested in winter of 2004 and implemented during the 2004/2005 school year, the Daytime Shuttle provides students living south of campus to reach main campus, students going from one end of campus to another, and visitors going from guest parking lots to events on campus to quickly get where they are going, said Berry.
“The on-campus shuttle has been very well-ridden, carrying hundreds of riders every week,” said Berry. “The shuttle is very useful for visitors and others traveling from the C lots up to Red Square in a short time. Many students used the shuttle for short trips on campus when weather made walking uncomfortable,” Berry stated.
With its distinguishable white and green exterior, the shuttle has helped to decrease traffic and congestion on campus, as well as lowering the demand for parking passes. The shuttle is funded through a variety of sources, including the Western parking system, the Associated Students, and various campus departments.
Unlike WTA’s buses, the Daytime Shuttle only stops only on Western’s main campus and at support offices. The shuttle has two routes, one that provides service to the university’s Administrative Offices on 32nd St., and the other a commuter loop on the main campus. It is operated by Airporter Shuttle/Bellair Charters under contract to the university. No fair or pass is required to ride the shuttle, and it is free and open to the public’s use.
For those familiar with the Daytime Shuttle, some changes are occurring in its schedule based on feedback from riders and in an effort to accommodate the WTA Blue line. The commuter loop route will provide transportation between the 12A and C lots near Fairhaven College and Miller Hall every ten minutes, from 7:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., when Western is in session.
The 32nd St. route will run a baseline service every 30 minutes year-round between 32nd St. and Miller Hall. It will operate from 6:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. During the academic year and while in session, the 32nd St. route will have additional services with increased frequencies to 15 minute intervals from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Last year, the Daytime Shuttle only operated during the academic school year, or from Sept. 22 to June 10. This year, however, due to rider surveys requesting year-round shuttle service, the 32nd St. shuttle will operate all year, starting on Sept. 19.
“The Western Washington University shuttle service is needed to provide for very specific campus transportation needs—transporting employees and students from distant offices and parking lots to the east side and core of campus. I’m pleased that the shuttle can coordinate with the new WTA high-frequency service connecting the campus with the larger community. The combination makes Western more accessible to all,” said Berry.
Berry also believes that both WTA lines and the shuttle are more sustainable and affordable for students and the greater Western community. “Bus services can be provided for many more people at a lower cost. Since Western and WTA are both public entities, it makes sense for the two to partner on behalf of the public good,” she said. With student on-campus parking ranging from roughly $60 to $200 per quarter for the 2005/2006 school year, transportation alternatives can be much more cost effective.
For more information on the Daytime Shuttle, the Viking Xpress Pass, or for WTA route maps and schedules, visit Parking and Transportation Services or call (360) 650-2945.