The increase in Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle service to Dupont Circle on Saturdays has pushed graduate students commuting from Rosslyn to significantly shift their weekend plans for longer commutes or cancel them altogether.
Esther Kim (GRD ’18), Georgetown University Graduate Student Government Vice President, said GradGov will present graduate students’ concerns next Thursday to the Master Planning Consortium, a joint advisory group made up of graduate students, undergraduates, faculty and neighbors.
“Getting to campus shouldn’t be such a hassle,” Kim said.
GUTS discontinued Saturday service to Rosslyn beginning Mar. 18 to allocate resources to the Dupont route, following advocacy from the Georgetown University Student Association for extended service times and an added stop at the Trader Joe’s grocery store on 25th Street.
GUSA Transportation Policy Team Chair Aviv Lis (COL ’19) said demand for increased access to grocery stores was a key reason for the change.
A previous Wisconsin route stopped near Safeway on Wisconsin Ave.
Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey said that the change to service schedules is justified by the route’s increased usage.
“The ridership has effectively doubled, thus optimizing operating resources and serving more members of our community,” Morey wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Graduate students who rely on the Rosslyn shuttle to get to main campus on weekends must now choose between engaging in longer, often more expensive commutes or refrain from weekend meetings and activities on campus.
For Isabella DeSpirito (GRD ’19), who lives in Fairfax, Va. and takes the Orange line from the Vienna station to Rosslyn, the lack of a shuttle adds an additional 30 minutes to her previously 90 minute commute.
DeSpirito said she tries to avoid leaving home on Saturdays to go to Georgetown, but would commute on Saturday if the Rosslyn shuttle service returned.
“I know there is a Zumba class that I have not been to because it is on Saturday at 10 a.m.,” DeSpirito said.
Graduate students — who make up 3,500 more students than the 7,000 undergraduate students at Georgetown — cannot live on campus. For many, Rosslyn and the greater Arlington area prove an attractive residential alternative, as the median rent for a medium-sized bedroom is almost $300 less per month than that in the Georgetown neighborhood, according to rental search platform Zumper.
The university has an agreement with Rosslyn-based Virginian Suites, an apartment tower, to offer a limited number of units to graduate students.
Sixty-nine percent of Georgetown commuters, including graduate students, commute to campus through other transit options other than single-occupancy cars, according to the 2017 Campus Plan at a Glance.
An informal poll conducted by GradGov representative Thazin Latt (GRD ’18) to gauge interest in the return of a Saturday service to Rosslyn found 25 of 26 graduate student respondents supported the reintroduction of the route.
“It would affect every grad student who lives on the other side of the bridge,” DeSpirito said of the idea.