By Justin Wier
Students living in on-campus dorms who don’t have cars may have a tough time getting to a full-service grocery store. The Student Government Association and Parking Services are working together to provide them with a shuttle to make things easier.
According to Ashley Orr, president of SGA, two international students have reached out to her.
“They wanted to see if YSU’s shuttle service would be willing to provide rides to grocery stores,” Orr said.
Orr reached out to Parking Services and the SGA Executive Board and received a positive response.
“I thought it was key that our SGA body took a stand on the issue and passed a resolution to start acting towards the goal,” Orr said.
Orr reached out to Danny O’Connell, director of Parking Services at YSU, who supported the idea. O’Connell said it is an extension of past cooperation with SGA.
“This fits right in with what we do,” O’Connell said.
Jef Davis, director of the Center for International Studies and Programs, said it is clearly a need.
“Just the lack of a full-service grocery store within walking distance has created problems for more and more students,” Davis said.
He added that the Western Reserve Transit Authority’s limited routes are difficult for many students.
The only options currently available to students within walking distance of campus are CVS and Downtown Circle, neither of which offer many fresh foods. Their prices are also higher than those at grocery stores.
“Even if you can get most of what you need at a convenient store, you pay a premium for that convenience,” Davis said.
Orr and O’Connell worked out a route that would include stops at Wal-Mart and Jerusalem Market on Belmont Avenue in Liberty.
“The route could definitely expand from the two initial stops. Jerusalem Market is included because it was specifically requested, but there are several ways we can develop the route,” Orr said.
Orr and O’Connell are holding a meeting with students on Friday to determine the best time and day to schedule the shuttle. O’Connell said they are leaning towards Friday afternoon.
“It gives them a chance to get up and get some things they might need for the weekend,” O’Connell said.
The shuttle could be in place as early as next week.
“We can move fast on this because the funds are already there, and Danny is very passionate about making this work,” Orr said.
O’Connell said Parking Services would be able to run the shuttle within their current operating budget.
“It’s part of what we committed to do two years back when we implemented the transportation fee,” O’Connell said. “It’s a great idea.”
O’Connell said they would maintain records of how frequently the shuttle was being used at the end of the semester, and determine whether or not they needed to make adjustments.
“Was it a success? Do we need to make changes? Do we discontinue it? We might learn we need it two days. We might learn we need it every other week,” O’Connell said.
He said they did the same thing when they began offering the shuttle that takes students downtown on the weekends.
“We started out with one shuttle a night, and now it’s two shuttles running a night, and they’re used,” O’Connell said.
Orr said she is optimistic that the benefits will outweigh the costs.
“A project like this — something that isn’t controversial and isn’t costing us any money — if initially we find that there are only four or five students using the service, that’s still four or five more students than before who get to visit the grocery store,” Orr said.