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UA Will Gauge Community Interest in Finals Week Logan Bus Service

By Dan McGuire
News Editor

The Undergraduate Association is gearing up for the third Logan Airport Shuttle at the end of the school year. This spring's shuttle, which will run from Wednesday, May 21 to Saturday, May 24, is intended to be a real test of the airport shuttle concept, said Dedric A. Carter '98, UA president.

In previous years, ridership figures were tainted by technical issues and publicity problems, making it difficult to figure out whether the airport shuttle, as a concept, was workable. "Last time, we did the Logan shuttle as kind of a last minute thing," he said. "We tried to publicize, and it didn't get out there." Nevertheless, "I was really pleased. We got a decent turnout."

This year, however, little is being left to chance. "This spring, we decided to do it right," he said. "We're trying to get as many people to ride it as possible. At the end of the spring, we're going to take another look at it."

This year, the UA wants to get "hard and fast statistics" and bring them before the UA Council to debate the merits of the shuttle, he said.

More shuttle stops added

In order to get those statistics, the UA is working hard to promote the Logan Airport Shuttle and is changing it to make it more convenient. The shuttle will run every hour and a half between 6:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from the Wednesday of finals week to the Saturday after finals. The shuttle has expanded the number of stops it will make. It will now stop at East Campus, McCormick Hall, and between Next House and New House. Last fall, the shuttle only stopped at McCormick.

A Boston stop was considered and then rejected, Carter said. "We were hoping to get a stop in Boston, but we could not come up with a stop that was fair, equitable, and legal as far as traffic was concerned."

Time also played a role in the decision not to stop in Boston, said Natalie Tal '99, Burton-Conner House's UA representative. "We wanted to have the shuttle run every hour and a half," she said. "We couldn't have it stop in Boston and make the trip in an hour and a half." A stop in Boston might be considered in the future.

"If the shuttle runs well, I'll be the champion of the shuttle for terms to come," Carter said, "but I have to convince 30 other council members" that it is a worthwhile endeavor.

Shuttle uses online registration

Last fall, technical issues hurt the project somewhat. The previous World Wide Web-based system had difficulty dealing with confirming reservations on buses. As a consequence, some students asked for a space and never got confirmation.

"The major job was in registering people and confirming them," Carter said. "There was one person handling about 300 e-mails."

"Not that many [problems] came up" in creating this year's Web site at http://bho.mit.edu/ua/shuttle/, said Benjamin Ho '00. The system in use this year is also completely automated, so there should be few problems.

At the moment, the page is running off of Ho's personal machine. "I guess the UA doesn't have a computer yet, and you can't run these programs off of Athena due to security" concerns, Ho said.

In order to register, students need to leave some basic information on the server. "All you really need [to enter] is a name, an e-mail address, a day, and time," Ho said.

In addition, students will be asked to enter a password, which will allow them to withdraw their registration for a particular space if they change their mind, Ho said.

Students will also be able to see who is signed up for each bus and see what buses are full. "If you want to coordinate with somebody else, you can see where that person signed up," Ho said.