Of the 14,000 students who attend the College of Staten Island, more than 5,000 rely on mass transit to get there, and both students and faculty are pushing for a rerouting of MTA buses that could make their commutes a little easier. Borough reporter Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus that brings College of Staten Island freshman Desean Mullings to the Willowbrook campus drops him off at the college's doorstep. But that is nearly three-quarters of a mile from where most of his classes are held.
"It's like you're so close but so far at the same time," says Mullings.
Many other CSI students say that mass transit leaves them far from their classes.
"Getting to class on time is a nuisance when you're taking the bus, especially because the bus does not drop you off in the middle of campus, it drops you off all the way at the outskirts," says Kevin Storberg, the student body president. "That additional transfer can mean the difference between you being half an hour late to a final or you being there on time or even early."
CSI spends $600,000 a year on its own so-called loop buses to shuttle students to the center of campus, but students say they are always crowded.
School officials point to an increase in enrollments and are now asking the MTA to help out with what they call a "simple" improvement to existing service. The two routes serving CSI could be extended into the campus, so students can be dropped off closer to where they need to go.
They say asking a bus driver to make a loop around campus to make just one stop would make a world of difference to students.
"This is a nice logical extension that is a minimal cost to the MTA and it really would help enhance the user experience," says CSI professor Jonathan Peters. "You don't make people walk to the transit, you should bring the transit to the people."
School administrators say they have spoken with local leaders who have pledged their support in dealing with the MTA.
In the meantime, students are trying to garner support themselves. They will be doing a poster campaign and collecting signatures for a petition.
"It would just make it less crowded and the commute would just be easier," says CSI student Javon Cox.
MTA officials say they are reviewing the request but add that with money tight, any service changes would have to come without increasing costs.