Archive for Friday, February 6, 2004

Students stranded after KU on Wheels halts routes

February 6, 2004


Jennifer King was cold, wet and steaming mad.

On Thursday afternoon, the Kansas University junior was left standing in the snow outside Snow Hall. Soon after the KU on Wheels bus system shut down because of the wintry weather, King wondered how she would get to her car, which was parked near the Lied Center on west campus.

"I'm stranded," she said. "I have no way to get to my car. They didn't even tell people in class (about the shutdown). I had to find out from a friend."

Tim Akright, transportation coordinator for KU on Wheels, said the decision to end bus service was a safety issue. Bus service ended about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, an hour before classes were canceled for the afternoon.

"When the buses started having trouble getting up the hill, we started just taking people off campus and not onto campus," he said.

Akright said bus routes were modified to get students off campus as quickly as possible shortly after noon. The Lawrence Bus Co. donated a van to shuttle remaining students to their destinations in the afternoon.

But the process wasn't working quickly enough for some students waiting for buses.

"I think it's pretty shady," said Danny Deenihan, a sophomore from Wichita trying to get to his apartment at 15th Street and Crestline Drive. "I have a car. I could have drove if I would've known that. I think it's poor service. I'm stuck here."

Akright said he understood the students' frustration. He said there was no way to notify all students about the change in bus service.

"I was frustrated with the situation, too," he said. "I understand people were upset. It was not the best situation."

Akright said he couldn't remember another time when bus service was canceled with school still in session.

Shortly after the bus service announced it would shut down, KU administrators decided to cancel afternoon and evening classes. Nonessential employees were allowed to go home after 2 p.m., at the discretion of their supervisors.

"When the buses can't run and people are having difficulty walking across the street, obviously it doesn't make sense for people to come to campus," said Todd Cohen, a KU spokesman. "We want to err on the side of safety. It became clear they couldn't clear off the streets quickly enough."

Cohen said administrators anticipated that classes would meet today, but a final decision won't be made until this morning.

KU has canceled classes only 10 times in the last 26 years. The last time was Jan. 30-31, 2002.

6News anchor/reporter Janet Reid contributed information to this report.

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