On Nov. 9, Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle (GUTS) buses started using the McDonough bus turnaround that consolidates four stops in one location on the south end of campus. Another event related to campus planning affecting mobility on campus is the temporary closure of Library Walk, required for construction outside the Former Jesuit Residence, from Nov. 9 to Nov. 14.
The McDonough Bus Turnaround now serves all GUTS bus routes except Wisconsin Ave, which will continue to depart from Darnall Hall, in one location outside McDonough Arena. Buses will no longer stop at the Car Barn since they will no longer ride down Prospect Street; instead, buses will turn left onto Canal Road. The turnaround also adds a cross-campus mini-shuttle with service between the turnaround and the Pasquerilla Healthcare Center by the hospital on the north side of campus.
The location of the turnaround on the South side of campus will impact different routes differently, according to a test of round trip travel times conducted by the Office of Transportation Management. For example, riders on the Rosslyn and Arlington shuttles will experience reduced travel times, since the route is shorter. However, riders of the Dupont Circle and Law Center shuttles will be subject to heavier traffic on M Street and Canal Road, especially during evening rush hour when travel times may be up to 11 minutes longer.
(See the end of the article for a Office of Transportation Management document the Voice obtained.)
Vice President of Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey announced the updated changes in two university-wide emails on Oct. 30 and Nov. 6. “In addition to improving campus sustainability and consolidating the GUTS bus stops, [the turnaround] adds amenities for passengers such as covered bus shelters and seating,” he wrote on Nov. 6. “The Bus Turnaround is consistent with our goal of moving traffic away from the center of campus to make campus more pedestrian-friendly.”
According to the GUSA Campus Plan report, the turnaround was constructed at a cost of $4 million for the 2010 Campus Plan. The shuttle system supports 2 million rides annually, and 32 percent of riders are students, the rest being staff, faculty and MedStar employees.
According to GUSA Secretary of Campus Planning Ari Goldstein (COL ‘18), the turnaround was the result of both neighborhood concerns about bus traffic on city streets and university desires to streamline the system. “The reality is that the neighborhood and the university have a relationship in which the neighborhood can express concerns and hope for the university to take action that will address those concerns,” he said. “City government is difficult to work with and city buses are … a fact of life, but GUTS buses are more actionable items.”
While the bus turnaround may serve to keep traffic away from campus, the closure of Library Walk scheduled to last until Saturday, Nov. 14 has rerouted foot traffic through Village A to support construction outside the Former Jesuit Residence, also the result of the 2010 Campus Plan.
“[The closure] will be a nuisance for all students but especially for disabled students, and it’s something that we see time and time again during construction on campus. Disabled students bear the brunt of the burden because we are a campus that is fundamentally inaccessible,” Goldstein said.
GUSA Secretary of Disability Affairs Danielle Zamalin (NHS ‘18) believes that the barriers created by construction closures such as this one disproportionately affect disabled students. “While I am sure the university will abide by the most basic, minimalist ADA legal requirements, there is a stark difference between compliance and accessibility,” she wrote in an email to the Voice.
Zamalin highlighted the potential impact of the increased travel times for disabled students struggling to get between classes on time. “Yes, there will be ways for students to get across campus, but will this be possible within 10 minute class times? Will this be possible without a thirty minute endeavor through a maze of detours for the three minute library walk? It is very ignorant for in this day and age to completely ignore a community on campus.”