By Gabrielle Owens
Due to COVID-19, Youngstown State University shuttle buses are not in service this semester. YSU and the Western Reserve Transit Authority partnered to offer free bus rides for students to travel throughout the Youngstown community.
Danny O’Connell, director of Support Services, said the YSU shuttles are out of service due to social distancing concerns.
“We have worked in conjunction with WRTA, who’s actually our manager, and they administer our shuttles on campus, to provide transportation for students during the fall semester,” he said.
The WRTA put many social distancing procedures in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and drivers.
“Each passenger must enter through the rear entrance, which separates the passengers from the driver, and this is something we do not have with the smaller shuttles because there is only one door to get on,” O’Connell said.
For 18 years, YSU has partnered with WRTA to provide transportation for students, especially those living on campus.
“They have been fabulous partners, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, in coming up with this concept that students can ride to the Southern Park Mall, Austintown, Eastwood Mall or anywhere they would like to go, for free,” he said.
Dean J. Harris, executive director of WRTA, said WRTA enacted many changes when the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“When the pandemic first started, we ended up shutting down our fixed route services for six weeks and all we ran was our curb-to-curb service. Also, we do extra cleaning on each bus, and each passenger is required to wear a mask during each ride,” he said.
Harris said students can register online to book a trip with the WRTA curb-to-curb services, which will allow them to have a ride to the grocery store or a ride around the Youngstown community.
“We still have services available for students who need a ride to Walmart. Students can call our customer service line and they can definitely give students directions on what buses they can ride and times for those routes,” he said.
Santajah Douglass, a freshman psychology major, said the free WRTA services are a great resource to have on the YSU campus.
“The WRTA is very effective; not only does it help me get to campus, it also helps me get to work. So, I am very grateful to have free transportation,” she said.
Students looking for a ride from WRTA can visit its website or call its customer service line at 330-744-8431.