CapMetro driver shortages cause UT shuttle route delays, Riverside students miss classes

Leila Saidane, News Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Feb. 4, 2022 flipbook.

UT students who live in Riverside faced transportation challenges on Tuesday as only one of three Capital Metro buses that run the Riverside route were operating due to bus driver shortages.

“Tuesday’s UT shuttle delays were an effect of labor shortages our agency is facing,” Jenna Maxfield, a representative for CapMetro, said in an email. “During these times, our operations team has to make difficult decisions to meet service demand for the entire system with the labor resources available.”

Maxfield did not specify the cause of the labor shortages in the email.

William Ramírez, an economics and honors humanities sophomore and a Riverside resident, said he was frustrated some UT professors had mandatory attendance policies when the city and the University were unable to provide adequate transportation. 

“A lot of these things, students can’t control, and they’re being penalized and have to face repercussions for it,” Ramírez said. “Luckily, I was able to make the bus, but at least 20 to 30 other students were left behind. If you miss a lecture or two of class you’re behind for weeks.”

Government junior Cecilia Garcia said city buses are her only form of transportation as a resident in Riverside. Garcia said buses typically arrive every 15 minutes. On Tuesday, they arrived every hour instead. Although she said she was able to catch the bus, Garcia said she would have been penalized in her government class if she had missed it.

“There was only one bus running the whole morning,” Garcia said. “It was completely full, sitting and standing, and there was still a crowd of people left at the bus stop. A bunch of people missed (their) class because there was no shuttle to school.”

Garcia said she felt frustrated with the discourse on Twitter between students who reside in West and North Campus who blamed students who reside in Riverside.

“Riverside is the most affordable housing (area) at UT,” Garcia said. “That really irked me, and I don’t think people understand that for the people who live in Riverside … the shuttles are the only form of transportation.”

Garcia said the University should do more to accommodate Riverside students and take a more active role in providing transportation to student living areas.

“I would like the actual University to implement a specific shuttle just for Riverside students,” Garcia said. “They’re not really giving us any resources to actually get to campus. I would like CapMetro to at least provide two more buses because we’re back in person.”

Eliska Padilla, UT’s issues and communications manager, said in an email that questions about bus route issues should be redirected to CapMetro, but she also pointed to a Jan. 11 message from Sharon Wood, executive vice president and provost, that asked faculty members to be flexible with students who have “exceptional circumstances.” 

Ramírez said University administration should no longer allow professors to require attendance because the policy alienates certain groups of students.

“(The University is) always so big on inclusivity and being all together, but once we start asking for inclusive classrooms, they literally push us out the door,” Ramírez  said. “I want the University to stick to their words and actually push for inclusive classrooms and inclusive workloads, like no mandatory attendance.”