Students board the 5:15 Rosen shuttle at UCF campus. Students complain about the shuttle always being late at this time.

Students who regularly take the Rosen shuttle complain that it is always late, especially at the 5:15 p.m. pickup time at the UCF main campus, and breaks down at least twice per semester.

On Nov. 12 one of the Rosen shuttles stalled on University Avenue shortly after leaving the main campus, and started to release smoke from the engine area, said Adriana Solla, senior biomedical sciences major. The driver stopped on the side of the road until a replacement bus arrived.

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Solla, who was on the bus at the time, said students on board waited about 10-15 minutes for the replacement bus to come then transferred onto it on the side of the road as traffic zoomed by. She said the replacement was not big enough to fit all the students on board, so the rest of the students had to wait more time for another bus to come.

“It was scary. I was very frustrated and super angry about it, because that day we had to wait for the bus like 20 minutes after, so we were already a little bit angry about it,” Solla said. “I heard about the other bus that exploded the other day … it’s still scary thinking about it right now.”

Knight News reached out to UCF about student complaints, and were told that the Nov. 12 incident was caused by a mechanical issue and that a replacement vehicle was dispatched immediately, said UCF spokeswoman Rachel Williams, in an email.

The latest incident reported to Knight News was Dec. 6. Solla said after students were picked up from UCF campus the driver said the shuttle needed gas, and had all students on board exit the bus at the service station until she finished pumping the gas. It’s not clear if this is against safety rules, but Solla said she did not experience this before.

In response to students’ complaints about the shuttle being late and not having enough space for all passengers, Williams said there are three buses that service the Rosen campus and that UCF monitors the situation consistently to keep up with student demands.

“The shuttle service is continuously monitored and adjustments are made as needed,” Williams said in an email. “Students can track the shuttles via the UCF mobile app, which provides real-time updates on the location of the shuttles, and when they are expected to arrive and depart for each route.”

However, students who take the bus regularly say it is always late at the 5:15 time on UCF’s main campus. One student suggested it would be better if the timing was changed to reflect when the shuttle actually comes, so students don’t have to wait around expecting it to arrive. 

“It’s never on time at 5:15,” said Joseph Ruberto, senior English major. “I wish they would kind of push back the time, instead of 5:15 if they would say 5:30.”

Ruberto said the bus is always at least 15 minutes late, and that sometimes there isn’t enough space for all the students forcing them to cram inside.

Some students said due to the lack of space sometimes students sit on the floor. Dianna Perez, junior studio art major, said she had to sit on the floor once this semester because there wasn’t enough space. Solla also said she saw other students sit on the floor, but didn’t have to sit herself.

Williams said students are not allowed to sit on the floor and drivers are instructed not to allow them to.

On Nov. 13, Solla said it was raining at UCF campus and the driver arrived for the 5:15 pickup, around 6:05.

“When [the driver] pulled up he said ‘I’m not gonna risk my life I can’t see through the glass and the windshield wipers are broken, you guys are gonna have to wait for the 7:15,’ which is the next bus that’s supposed to come,” Solla said. “I remember I was so frustrated about it, I had just got out of a test and was ready to go home.”

She said the driver took his stuff and left the bus in the street. About 30 minutes later another bus came to pick students up. It was small but everyone crammed inside, Solla said. She said she was in a bus that stalled on the road at least twice this semester.

Williams said the company that runs the shuttles, Transdev, is responsible for their maintenance as part of their contract.

UCF alumnus Arnaldo Perez-Negron, who graduated in the summer of 2018, said he used the bus for about two years of his time at UCF and experienced the same issues. Perez-Negron, who is also Solla’s boyfriend, said the bus would regularly stall, at least twice each semester.

He said he believes the drivers choose smaller buses which often do not have enough space for the students who need to take them.

“We heard bus drivers say that the company allows them to choose the buses they want to drive, and since the smaller buses are easier for the drivers they go ahead and choose the smaller buses,” Perez-Negron said.

Solla said in the summer the Rosen bus schedule changes, and as a result would not allow her to catch up with her morning classes at UCF campus. She said she had to spend money on gas and tolls in order to get to her classes.

Solla emailed UCF complaining about the schedule issue and if they would consider changing their schedule to allow students who take morning classes at UCF to use the shuttle service. She said she was frustrated and disappointed that they did not address her concerns. The response she got to her detailed email to UCF shuttles, was “thank you for your feedback.”

UCF is switching their shuttle service to Groome Transportation next year and will have a new fleet of shuttles that service the main campus and all satellite campuses, Williams said. But the schedules and routes will not change.

“It would be nice to at least have a conversation with someone from transportation, because as of right now we’ve had absolutely no one listening to the complaints of the students,” Perez-Negron said. “Driving a bus that has smoke coming out, or that has to stop in the middle of a 70 mph highway or in the middle of University Boulevard, it is putting the students’ safety at risk.”