Last fall, Miami University switched its Miami Metro service provider and signed a contract with Laidlaw Transit, a company based in suburban Chicago. Among other things, the Miami Metro routes were modified in an effort to improve service. While some transitional delays were to be expected, it has now been over a year since the routes were changed and the buses still do not arrive on time. It is the opinion of The Miami Student editorial board that the university must work with Laidlaw in order to improve the Metro service, one that students are supporting with an added fee on their tuition bills, so that it can be relied upon to arrive on time and remain a viable means of transport.
It is important to note that this is not simply a gripe over a few isolated instances in which a Metro was late, but rather a critique reflective of an ongoing pattern of late buses. Likewise, this editorial board understands that it is almost inevitable that the Metro schedule will be affected in instances of a snowstorm or by the traffic of Family Weekend. Yet on an ordinary basis, because students who use the Metro to get to class must wait by the bus stop with the conviction that the bus will arrive at its stated time, late Metros quickly result in a lack of faith in the system and leave students scrambling to find alternative modes of transportation.
In light of these circumstances, Miami’s student body is growing increasingly frustrated with a service they pay for, but which over half of them do not use. Miami Metro drivers have empathized with student concerns, and have been telling students to call Laidlaw in order to voice their complaints to the company. However, Laidlaw has been highly unresponsive. Talawanda School District recently switched from Laidlaw to a local company, Petermann Transportation, without any problems, and if the Metro situation does not improve, Miami University should consider doing the same.
Fundamentally, the Metro issue is one of ensuring that buses run on schedule so that students can feel confident waiting by the bus stop and knowing that they will get to class on time. While the occasional delay is understandable, the unpredictability of the Metro system has resulted in students not riding the buses. Oxford is not a very big town; much larger cities have bus routes that arrive on time despite worse traffic, and this is a problem that should be quickly sorted out. If the buses are running late, or if there are going to unavoidable delays, Metro services should post them on Blackboard in order to give students a heads up.
While the inability of the Miami Metro to arrive on schedule might prove to be an interesting research project for a capstone class or an urban planning seminar, the issue needs to be quickly resolved by the company that is being paid with our tuition dollars.