Georgetown has enhanced its student transportation services this semester by adding a third neighborhood shuttle vehicle and a texting feature to its SafeRides service.
A third vehicle is now picking up students along the heavily trafficked M Street late into the evening on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
In past years, shuttles have circled from the front gates through Burleith and West Georgetown — including O Street, Prospect Street and Wisconsin Avenue — on the typical party nights from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. The new shuttle will loop down M Street and K Street and back onto campus via the Canal Road entrance.
In addition to the neighborhood shuttles, the Department of Public Safety offers SafeRides, a program which allows students to request a van for late-night transportation throughout the week. According to Associate Director of DPS Joseph Smith, drivers will now be able to text students who request service when they have arrived at their destination. Such an initiative, Smith said, will lower the possible safety risks students face if waiting outside for a period of time.
Georgetown University Student Association President Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) said he hopes to increase the use of the SafeRides and neighborhood shuttle services by improving student awareness. He plans to add maps in dorms and around campus that show shuttle routes and times.
GUSA Vice President Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) believes that the new shuttle will also prevent students from abusing the SafeRides service.
“There’s been a problem of people using SafeRides as a shuttle to the bars,” Laverriere said.”SafeRides can actually have quicker response times now for people who truly feel uncomfortablewalking.”
Lavierre added that the additional shuttle would have many benefits.
“The shuttle does mitigate a lot of concerns regarding noise in the neighborhood, and it also helps free up SafeRides for people who really need it.”
Last February, Advisory Neighborhood Committee 2E cited students’ weekend rowdiness in their recommendation to the D.C. Zoning Commission that condemned the university’s 2010-2020 Campus Plan.
night noise and disruption in the surrounding community is generated by groups of [Georgetown] students who have spent time in the M Street bars and then walk back through the residential areas of Georgetown, often inebriated, making an excessive amount of noise,” it said.
As a remedy, ANC 2E called for the creation of an M Street shuttle through Canal Road, adding, “[Georgetown] now runs some vans through the residential streets — a program it started up some time ago without consulting the community — but these do not run on M Street and do not address the core problem. Indeed, the vans, to the extent they are used at all, often contribute to the problem when groups of students congregate loudly on residential sidewalks waiting for a van.”
Meaney said that last February, shortly after taking office, he was denied a request for funds to beef up the shuttle service and add an M Street option. The transportation initiative had been a featured policy in Meaney’s campaign.
On March 31, Georgetown amended its original campus plan submission, and among the changes was a proposed new shuttle on M Street.
Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson, in an email, declined to say whether the new shuttle was in response to neighborhood pressure regarding rowdiness.
“The new M Street shuttle is designed to make it convenient and safe for students to travel from campus to the M Street area and back,” Olson wrote. “This also helps to reduce foot traffic on neighborhoodstreets.”
According to Rachel Pugh, director of media relations, additional measures to suppress disruptive student behavior at night will include having more Metropolitan Police Department officers patrol the area in front of campus at night.
“These officers are there to help keep everyone in our neighborhood safe,” she said. “They will do this by addressing activity and behavior that creates unsafe conditions or undermines the peace of thecommunity.”