The free EZ Ride Shuttle service at Monmouth University will be discontinued due to budget concerns and a lack of riders on Sept. 30.
This shuttle was provided by the city of Long Branch which received a grant to run the shuttle for three years. It was accessible to both students and faculty for free several times a day, allowing them to travel to locations in the surrounding area, stopping at residential areas and the beach.
“The city was successful in getting an extension for two more years and Monmouth put in a relatively small amount of money towards the grant,” said Mary Anne Nagy, Vice President of Student Life and Leadership Engagement. The lack of an extension to the grant resulted in the announcement on Aug. 14 that the service would be terminated. The University has been the beneficiary of this transportation system for five years.
“Both Monmouth [University] and Long Branch could not justify the expense based on the small number of people riding the shuttle,” said Nagy. Since the cost of keeping the shuttle running was high compared to the small ridership size, both parties decided to discontinue future funding.
Teniya Manu, a sophomore accounting student, said, “I used the shuttle to go to CVS since I don’t have a car or anyone to drive me around. Although only a few people took advantage of the shuttle, it was very convenient to have since there is no time or wait schedule like most other shuttles.”
The University staff is working on finding transportation alternatives. “There is nothing right now to replicate the EZ Shuttle that would take students and faculty all day, every day,” said Nagy. However, there have always been other shuttles available to students for different locations such as Red Bank, Monmouth Mall, and Target, among others. The Office of Student Activities has created a calendar with five different dates that will have shuttles available for students to get an opportunity to visit places and explore resources outside of campus.
“My staff and I are looking at car rental organizations, like Zip Car, who terminated our agreement recently despite having over 500 people registered in the program,” said Patti Swannack, Vice President for Administrative Services. “We believe it was as s result in the utilization of services like Uber. One of the agenda items I would like the University’s Sustainability Committee to consider is a bike sharing service. Bike sharing services cost money so if there is not sufficient interest and the program is not self-supporting, I don’t think it will be possible to offer the service.”
“While the shuttle will stop running at the end of September, students will be able to take the NJ Transit 837 bus, which makes a stop at the corner of Cedar and Norwood Avenue and the Long Branch Train station. Another recommendation that students have pursued is to carpool or find rides with friends, if the bus or train routes will not work with their schedules or transportation needs,” said Vaughn Clay Ph.D., Director of Off-Campus and Commuter Services. The schedule can be found online and there is a small fare amount for the bus.
“For now there are still many options like Uber and Lyft that students can pursue in taking,” said Nagy. Until a decision is finalized, students and administration are both encouraged to take advantage of other means of transportation to fulfill their needs.
IMAGE TAKEN from ezride.org