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Mass. law change delays UA shuttle

By Brian Rosenberg

The startup of the Undergraduate Association safety shuttle has been delayed by a complication in the procedure for hiring a driver, according to Judith L. Yanowitz '91, co-chair of the UA's Campus Safety Committee.

Last year, the committee stipulated that the shuttle's driver not have a criminal record of any kind, Yanowitz said. In order to verify this, a background check of each applicant is necessary. But in 1991, Massachusetts law changed the way potential employers could conduct such checks, she explained.

"The change [in the law] meant that MIT had to change its hiring procedures," Yanowitz said. "That change delayed the posting of the advertisement for drivers until about two weeks ago."

The UA plans to hire two drivers, Yanowitz said.

Holly L. Simpson '92, a member of the safety committee, said there was also a delay in buying a van to serve as the shuttle. "When we went to buy a van, we had to wait until a 12-passenger van was in stock," she said.

The cost of the van was around $20,000, and was paid for by the Department of Housing and Food Services, according to Yanowitz. Money for different aspects of the shuttle services will come from several sources. "The Campus Police will pay for radios and maintenance for the van, while the drivers will be paid from the provost's budget," Yanowitz said.

The UA and Graduate Student Council are providing publicity money for the shuttle, she added.

Yanowitz was unsure when the shuttle would begin service. "I don't want to make any promises, but [the shuttle] will probably be running by mid-March, and almost certainly by the end of spring break," she said. She thought the committee has "moved quickly for a project like this."

"The fact that the administration provided money out of budget for this shows that safety is an important issue for them," Yanowitz said.

When the shuttle first begins service, it will be operated on an on-call basis through the Campus Police dispatcher. The shuttle will run from 6 pm to 3 am Sundays through Wednesdays, and from 6 pm to 4 am Thursdays through Saturdays.

The shuttle will travel to every dormitory and Independent Living Group, as well as to the areas of Boston, Cambridge and Brookline around the ILGs, Yanowitz said. "If you want to go the Holiday Inn in the Back Bay, the shuttle will go there," she said. "The shuttle will go into Central Square and Kendall Square as well."

When the shuttle begins operation, it will be in a "test period," Yanowitz said. "If the shuttle is heavily used, it may be expanded to several vans with set stops. However, we don't want to have people walking from a stop to their house, since that would defeat the shuttle's purpose."