Seven Springs residents react to return of shuttle service

The University of Maryland announced the temporary return of Shuttle-UM service to Seven Springs apartments in late November. 

The 110 bus route will run for the spring semester only, and with a limited schedule, stopping at the apartments three times a day.

This decision comes after months of pushback from the university’s Graduate Student Government and residents of the apartment complex.

But some residents say the shuttle’s limited schedule is only the beginning of a resolution.

Danielle Koonce, a sociology doctoral student, said she chose to live at Seven Springs because of the on-site daycare facility and the shuttle. 

Koonce, who has two children and is pregnant with a third, said she had to purchase a parking pass and borrow a car from her family to get through the semester.

“I needed to be mobile, like, I couldn’t just be stuck on campus all day,” said Koonce. 

Koonce’s son is in kindergarten, and she said she there are times where she needs to be at the school for parent-teacher meetings. She said the Seven Springs shuttle would have dropped her off at a stop by his school. 

“We kind of had to renegotiate, like, how are we going to get to point A, B and C, and make sure I can get to where I need to be,” said Koonce.

The university’s Department of Transportation Services said in an emailed statement that it is working with the Graduate Student Government to discuss funding and ride times for the service, but did not have a breakdown of the funding yet.

“I think if they can do it temporarily my question is why did [DOTS] eliminate it in the first place and why can’t it be permanent?” said Koonce.

Don Stocks, vice president of operations at Ross Management Services, which owns the apartments, said in an emailed statement that the decision to cancel the shuttle was made solely by the university and that the apartments have seen a decline in student residence over the past five years. 

Stocks said the shuttle was mostly popular with non-residents who lived along the Rhode Island Avenue corridor and that continued shuttle funding was “too burdensome” for Seven Springs to sustain.

Some residents say otherwise. 

“The route has always been very packed,” said Koonce. “Oftentimes there’s a high likelihood that you’re going to stand all the way from Seven Springs to campus.”

“It was always full,” said Natasha Chhabra, a sociology doctoral student. “Imagine if a bus stopped at an apartment complex and it was full at the first stop.”

Chhabra moved out of Seven Springs in August after DOTS announced the cancellation of the route. She said she was allowed to break her lease by giving a 60-day notice to the apartments. 

Koonce said she will not renew her lease with the apartment after the spring semester ends. She said she felt deceived by Seven Springs. She said she recommended the apartments to others because of the shuttle.

“They just really showed us their true colors,” said Koonce.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of UMD Transportation Services

 Eric Harkleroad is a student at the University of Maryland. 

 

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