Eastern has long struggled with the task of transporting students and faculty between off-site locations and campus. Currently, a makeshift system exists where security officers bear the burden of transporting people from Valley Forge Military Academy’s parking lot and the St. Davids train station. However, in addition to being inefficient, the present system places a strain on the security staff. With these things in mind, the university asked BUSA491 students to devise a business plan for better addressing the transportation needs of the campus.
The class, better known as SIFE, took the challenge and came up with two specific proposals after a semester of research and analysis. Both proposals include scheduled stops at VFMA’s parking lot, local train stations and King of Prussia. The first proposal involves contracting out the work of the shuttle system to the company Tri-County Shuttle. The second proposal works with Cabrini’s shuttle bus to provide service to both campuses.
Senior Mike Dorsch said that the Tri-County service would be a little more expensive but would also be more convenient. In contrast, the Cabrini shuttle would be less expensive because Eastern would share costs with Cabrini. Dorsch, along with seniors Christian Middleton and Robert Hornak, wrote the business plan proposals and are hoping to present them to Student Development soon.
A major obstacle in the way of the proposals is their costs, especially in difficult economic times that are strapping the university’s finances. For the Tri-County service, SIFE estimated the cost to be $174,375. This would include daily service from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Aug. 15 through May 15. The proposal suggested that the cost be divided by the number of undergraduate and graduate students. This number, approximately $58 per student, could be covered by an increase in tuition, Dorsch and Middleton said.
The Cabrini proposal would be based on a per rider cost and would vary from month to month. Cabrini would divide the cost of the shuttle with Eastern based on the number of students from each college who used it. For example, according to the proposal, if 100 Eastern students were to use the shuttle service in September, the cost to Eastern would have been just under $900. The clause with the Cabrini proposal is that students would need to walk to Cabrini and present their Eastern ID to go anywhere. Students would also need to walk from Cabrini to Eastern on their return trip.
Other options that were explored included hiring a full-time staff of additional security officers and attempting to have federal work study students perform the work of driving. Overall, SIFE determined that their proposals were the most effective and practical.