Sixteen new buses will be added to the Georgetown University Transportation System fleet this year, the first major upgrade to the bus service in nearly a decade, according to Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey.
Six of the new buses are scheduled to go into service Jan. 20 while the remaining 10 buses will be deployed throughout the next few months. As the new buses go into service, the current buses will gradually be retired.
“The existing GUTS fleet is 10 plus years old, so it’s just time,” Morey said. “When you have a fleet that’s that old, you want to modernize it. And that was the driving impetus because from an economical perspective we were spending a lot of resources repairing the buses.”
As of 2009, the GUTS fleet included 29 buses. Although Morey said that the old buses will be sold for their residual value, the university did not yet announce which vehicles would compose the remainder of the GUTS fleet.
The new buses will feature multiple improvements including front, back and on-board cameras; easier to read signage identifying the bus route; bike racks; and fuel efficiency that is nearly twice that of the current buses.
The updated buses will also incorporate exterior artwork from graphic design student Olivia Duff (COL ’16). The artwork will distinctly brand the vehicles as being a part of Georgetown’s fleet, allowing commuters to more easily identify the GUTS buses.
The artwork was produced as part of a competition in professor L. Collier Hyams’ Intro to Graphic Design class, in which more than 100 designs were submitted by students. Those in top management at facilities voted on their favorite designs from the 100 and a short list of 10 options was sent to the student body for a campus-wide vote last spring, according to Meredith Cheney (COL ’16) who oversaw the voting process.
“It kind of happened organically,” Meredith said of the design collaboration. “I was in professor Hyams’ design class last spring. He normally has an art car project, and he works with a local BMW dealer, but this year that fell through. So the GUTS Buses were a prime opportunity to do what he did with art cars, but he just did it with buses instead.”
Duff’s winning design features a silhouette of the Georgetown campus skyline connected by the Key Bridge to a silhouette of the Capitol and Washington Monument.
“I wanted my design to instantly be recognizable as a Georgetown bus, so I used the university’s official colors and font,” Duff wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I liked the idea of Georgetown being a part of D.C., so I incorporated recognizable silhouettes of Healy, the Key Bridge, the Washington Monument. … We are so lucky to be in this amazing city, and the GUTS bus gives us the opportunity to more fully explore it.”
Cheney said that she hopes to see more collaboration between the university and students for art projects.
“To be quite honest, I believe this is how it should be because students have the ideas and the administration, faculty and staff are the institutional bodies on campus,” Cheney said. “And so bridging those is great. … I would love to see this collaboration happen more often.”
Georgetown faculty, staff and students take more than 2 million passenger trips annually with the GUTS fleet, according to Vice President Morey. To put that number in perspective, the two Circulator routes that service Georgetown average about 2.7 million rides a year. The Circulator is run by the District Department of Transportation.
Faculty and staff are the main users of the GUTS Bus, followed by MedStar employees, graduate students and then undergraduate students.
“From an overall sustainability perspective, running an effective transportation system is critical to our operations,” Morey said.
Scott Syroka (COL ’16), who commutes to Dupont Circle every day using the GUTS Bus, said that he approves of the updates to the fleet.
“I certainly think anything more fuel efficient and better for the environment is a win,” Syroka said. “[The new buses] look more modern than what they were before and having increased fuel efficiency is good. Especially being a university where we have Jesuit values, [we should] take care of the earth that God’s provided us, so I think lessening emissions is one way to do that.”
The new buses are only the first of a number of updates to the GUTS Bus service that will occur in the near future. In October a new GUTS Bus turnaround in front of McDonough Arena will open, allowing for a centralized location for loading and unloading GUTS Buses on campus. Currently buses pick up and drop off at multiple locations.
Construction on the turnaround will begin in March and will include a renovation to the campus’ Canal Road entrance.
Once the new GUTS Bus fleet is completely phased in, a blessing of the new buses will take place in Healy Circle at an undetermined date in the future, according to Cheney.