The University of Connecticut recently announced it would reinstate the shuttle from the Storrs campus to the UConn Health Center in Farmington. For students with internship aspirations in the hospital or laboratory, the revival is a breath of fresh air—especially if what stands between them and their potential experiences is a lack of vehicle or money for gas, parking spots or maintenance.
Few undergraduate students likely used the original shuttle, as its tenure only lasted from November 2011 to May of the following year. The administration rationalized that the shuttle was not cost-effective based on the number of students that utilized its services. Though Seven months may have been too short a time to properly evaluate its success, only 5 months are allotted in the new case.
However, this time will probably be different. Citing overall campus growth and “increasing interdisciplinary collaboration developing between researchers, faculty and students at Storrs and UConn Health” the initiative seems more reasonable in 2016. Bioscience CT was born the year of the shuttle’s inception, and massive programs to the tune of 16,400 permanent jobs by 2037 (which transitively attract student researchers and interns) take time to get their feet off the ground.
With the presumed influx of STEM-oriented students following the advent of the new learning corridor, one can expect a natural, recurring interplay between the Health Center and students whose college work or extra-curriculars often necessarily dovetail with its services.
This service does not exclude Storrs-based medical students who divide their time between classes in Storrs and at UConn Health. The financial stakes are undoubtedly higher for this demographic as well, with the bulk of these students being young adults with greater responsibility and little to no steady income.
Moreover, UConn is keeping the costs “in house,” whereas they previously used an outside agent, Kelley Transit Company. Running the service through UConn Transportation Services will likely render lower costs, or at least costs lower than through a private contractor.
The shuttle’s success will be judged at the end of the school year. Its utility looks promising, but its only success so far has been an appropriate demographic shift that entails its regular and popular use. Otherwise, it may not be a cost-effective decision to keep it around. The second time’s more of a learning curve than the first.