The coming and going of trams
University of San Diego students are no strangers to the tram system. Whether they use it to commute from Manchester to main campus or from the West Parking lot up the treacherous hill, the trams serve many purposes.
In the past week there has been a flyer on the trams advertising feedback regarding the efficiency of tram services. This is the direct result of two students who took matters into their own hands by requesting a change within Tram Services.
Sophomore Marcus Goforth is a student-athlete with a tight schedule and he relies heavily on the tram, especially in the mornings when trying to make it to all of his classes before afternoon practices.
“My frustrations came from when I come out at 7:30 a.m. trying to get to my 8 a.m., I would look at the tram system [through the MySDMobile app] and it says they are on a 45-minute break,” Goforth said. “I’m like, ‘Why are you doing this at 8 a.m. when everybody is trying to get to class?’ It got to be very frustrating since I rely on them to get from point A to point B on time [from Manchester to main campus].”
After months of missed trams and being late to class, Goforth decided to express his frustration with Tram Services.
“I wasn’t expecting anything, I just decided to email them,” Goforth said. “But then one of the people who works for the Tram Services emailed me back and told me what the problem was. They didn’t realize that one of their drivers taking a break in the morning was slowing down the process.”
Goforth’s direct initiative led to an honorable mention in the Tram Services’ feedback flyer, as well as a shift in the system that some USD students might appreciate.
“They said they would try to adjust the workers’ break time to later, after the morning rush,” Goforth said. “And I have noticed a big difference since I emailed them. There are two trams running frequently in the morning and there’s really no issues for me in the morning anymore.”
The tram system has also been frustrating for senior Madison Samuels who currently lives in Manchester Hall.
“It is too far to walk from Manchester to [main] campus, so I relied on the tram to get me to class,” Samuels said. “But it was so unreliable that I have to give myself about 40 minutes just to get to class on time, since I was never sure when it would be arriving.”
Because of the constant unreliability of the tram schedule, Samuels tried to maximize her chances of catching the tram.
“Luckily my bedroom window faces out to the street so if I saw it coming down the hill I would run out and catch it; I didn’t want to miss it while it’s there,” Samuels. “I will constantly take a break from getting ready to check outside to see if the tram is on its way.”
Even with the convenient view from her bedroom window, Samuels still has difficulty getting to the tram on time.
“I’m never sure when it was arriving and it just isn’t very reliable,” Samuels said. “I have contemplated about calling Ubers to come and pick me up instead, just so I wouldn’t have to stress about the timing of it all.”
Besides the unreliability of the tram schedule, Samuels expressed her dissatisfaction with the crowded trams.
“I do not like when the trams get so jam-packed that you are forced to stand up,” Samuels said. “No way will I do that. It’s hard trying to maintain your balance [while standing up] with your books and backpack while they are going around turns and speed bumps.”
Samuels recognized that all of her complaints might not be able to be solved by Tram Services, but she still hopes that there may be some ways to alleviate these problems.
“I think that if there were more trams that ran more frequently, it may not be as crowded,” Samuels said. “Maybe during the peak class hours, like in the morning or around lunch time, they could increase the amount of shuttles running just to make it more efficient.”
Yet, senior Samantha Leighty has not had any recent issues with the tram.
“I usually only take the tram from the West Lot up to [main] campus and then [main] campus back down to the West Lot,” Leighty said. “It’s always pretty timely and runs pretty frequently, at least in the mornings.”
Although Leighty has had a good experience with the tram in the mornings, she usually finds it more difficult to navigate later in the day.
“The only thing I would say is when I get out of my classes later at night I don’t know how often it does go, so I feel like I’m waiting a lot longer and a lot more often,” Leighty said. “Since I’m not sure when the cut-off is for the tram to stop running at night, this is when the app would come in handy.”
Leighty has attempted to use the MySDMobile app to find out when the trams run during the time of her night classes.
“I know that they have the schedules on the app, but I don’t think it works,” Leighty said. “I wish that the app was more informational on maybe how many trams are currently running and when they will start decreasing or increasing the amount of trams running.”
Junior Molly McGarvey appreciates Tram Services’ effort to maintain some reliability.
“The trams’ consistent routes make it easy to plan a route to get around campus,” McGarvey said.
The tram system will not be going anywhere anytime soon, as it is a vital resource for the USD community. However, whether students are content or unhappy with the current system, Tram Services has made it evident that they are open to suggestions and will work with riders to improve the tram experience.