When Georgetown University students have time on Sundays to explore Washington, D.C., the lack of Georgetown University Transportation Shuttles limits students’ ability to travel into the city.
Students have advocated for more accessible transportation into the District. While the administration has brought some changes, students still lack sufficient weekend transportation options.
To increase weekend travel options for students, Georgetown should pilot Sunday GUTS service to Dupont Circle beginning in the fall semester. By connecting students to Metro service in Dupont Circle, students can then have easy access to the rest of D.C.
Currently, GUTS buses run to Rosslyn, Dupont Circle, the Georgetown University Law Center, Wisconsin Avenue and Arlington during the weekdays. The only weekend offering, however, is a six-hour block of trips to Dupont Circle on Saturday afternoons.
During the pilot program, the bus would run every 20 minutes during the day, which is less frequent than weekday service but more than 75% of Metrobuses with Georgetown stops. Throughout the semester, Georgetown would then study the demands of the added route and make adjustments to its GUTS bus service to best accommodate the community’s needs.
To pilot Sunday GUTS service, the Dupont Circle route is the most reasonable start. Out of Rosslyn and Dupont Circle, the two GUTS routes that have Metro stops, Dupont Circle has boasted double the ridership, according to former Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey in an email to The Hoya in 2017. One pilot Sunday route would greatly alleviate travel difficulties without placing a heavy burden on Georgetown.
As The Hoya’s editorial board noted in September 2018, Georgetown encourages students to take full advantage of the cultural and political opportunities D.C. offers, according to the “Campus Life” section of its website (“Subsidize Student Access to DC,” The Hoya, September 21, 2018, A2). When students have time to get off campus on weekends, though, the lack of GUTS bus service makes travel more difficult.
“When students come to Georgetown, they expect to go out and explore,” said Celia Buckman (SFS ’21), a student who often utilizes GUTS buses. “They would mostly do this on the weekend, but without a GUTS bus or Metro stop it’s pretty hard to access the rest of the city.”
GUTS bus service is especially necessary on the weekends because of decreased public bus availability, according to bus schedules on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s website. The only travel alternative for students is ride-share services, which often carry a high price, and bike-share services, which are infeasible for long distance travel.
To allow easier travel for students when they have time to explore D.C., Georgetown should expand weekend GUTS bus service.
Despite the benefits, the university is still concerned about balancing cost with ridership, wrote university spokesperson Matt Hill in an email to The Hoya. However, by expanding access to Dupont Circle — and eventually other places — Georgetown makes a financially sound investment that has the potential to attract more prospective students.
To achieve its stated mission to facilitate access to D.C, the university must account for the difficulty of finding transportation on the weekends. A Sunday GUTS service is the best way to improve Georgetown’s accessibility on the weekends.
Uncertain demand could be an additional obstacle to expanding weekend GUTS services. A pilot program would alleviate this concern by allowing the university to gauge community interest before fully expanding weekend service.
To maintain the same degree of accessibility during weekends and weekdays, Georgetown should fund a Sunday GUTS bus service to Dupont Circle in fall 2019. If the pilot shows high ridership, the university can further consider adding more weekend routes.
Students should not be confined to campus during the weekends due to the lack of GUTS bus service. Instead, Georgetown should invest in weekend GUTS buses to better connect students to the city they live in.