Moravian Shuttle Service: Your Questions Answered


Photo courtesy of Moravian University via LinkedIn

On Tuesday, March 29, I sat down with Moravian’s associate director of utilities & infrastructure, Chad Royer, and shuttle bus driver Sue Larrison. Together, the three of us discussed all the moving parts behind the Moravian shuttles and the student uproar about the operation of the shuttle service in January. You can read about that in more detail in my previous article entitled, “MoCoGo Nowhere.” The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Have you faced any challenges in creating the schedule for the shuttle service?

CR: We first try to find a balance between the new semester, the Registrar, and class schedule. It usually takes probably about a month and a half for either ourselves or the student body to become climatized to the normal route. So it’s usually the first month to month and a half of the semester where it’s a learning curve on both sides. 

How do you determine when the shuttle starts and stops running each day?

CR: I learned from my predecessor, Harold Anderson. During his leadership of running the shuttle for thirty-plus years, he found this sweet spot. The ridership early in the morning wasn’t there to justify the number of shuttles, but [Anderson] said, “If you have two shuttles starting at 7:00 a.m., you’re good. And then you have your three during your overlap, so [the drivers] can also take a break and get lunch.” And then during the lunch period, you’ll have three in service and then you [pointing at Sue Larrison] drop out at 3:00. And then you’ll have two shuttles running from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and those will go out.

Willis, our nighttime driver, will come in and go on from 7:00 p.m. to midnight. Student Life in general plays a far larger part than people realize, when it comes to the service being canceled, restricting ridership due to COVID, mask requirements, and whether we were going to cease the operation entirely. As it pertains to breaks, we go directly to Housing. 

How do you know when weather conditions become too much for the shuttles to run?

CR: It’s very stressful to determine when to stop a service that people become accustomed to. But the big thing we have to take into account is the safety of our student body and the liability to the University. So, Sue is my good sounding board. She lets me know if things are too rough because I’m not out there driving the vehicle that they’re driving. [She] lets me know how the city’s doing. Are they keeping the roads clear? Do you feel safe? Do you feel safe for the students? Sue’s great. Some of the other drivers are not as accustomed to driving in those conditions, but they do it.

The big complaint we received from The Comenian’s “MoCoGo Nowhere” article was that we suspended the services. But then we brought it back. The Lehigh Area of Transit actually suspended service for the day. So we take into account what others are doing as well, but then it’s a combination of: I get feedback or input from my drivers, I talk to my director, we talk to Student Life, and then we all discuss it before coming to the conclusion to suspend services. 

SL: But from a driver’s perspective, especially on January 17th, I’m being honest: that day was very challenging, and I’ve been driving a bus for twenty-plus years. As Chad said, everyone’s safety is taken into account. It was extremely icy. Literally, I slid coming from the HILL, coming down south on Main Street. I slipped into a skid from Broad Street down past the Lanta buses that were parked at the parking garage. And I had a full bus of students. We never cancel a service out of pure laziness.

Are drivers required to stop at every stop?

CR: They are not required to stop at every stop. There are upon-request stops like the North Street Parking Garage or the bookshop.

How long are the drivers supposed to wait at each stop?

SL: I try to wait three full minutes, load up, and then pull away. That gives everyone plenty of time because you might not realize it, but three minutes is a long time.

What are your thoughts on the MoCoGo app?

CR: There is some functionality in what we can do in the app, but nobody has ever complained about it or claimed it needed improvements. Right now, we just have our route, but I hope that we can soon put images of our most used routes (The HUB and the HILL).

What does the time on the app refer to?

CR:It refers to the time the drivers are supposed to arrive. There was probably some kink experienced at the beginning of the year, but by now we run a pretty tight ship.

Do you have enough staff?

CR: No, there is a national shortage of commercial drivers at the moment, so I’m still trying to fill the position of our weekend evening driver. We actually made an increase in the starting wage to make it more attractive. The only requirements needed are a Class B CDL with a passenger endorsement or a school bus license.

Below is a more in-depth description of the position, as well as information on how to apply.

Shuttle Application