Close to a month after its launch, Cavalier Connection continues marketing the services and advantages it offers to UVa-Wise faculty, staff and students.
College News and Media Relations director Kathy Still says she hopes to see more use of the new bus service since it has been a longtime demand by students and has become a passion project for both her and Mark Dixon, Strategic Communications Coordinator.
Dixon says that there is a “thirty rides per day goal—that’s fifteen people making round trips” but that the average rides per day staggers “between twelve and fifteen rides” which barely meets the halfway mark of that goal.
Efforts to boost demand for Cavalier Connection since its inaugural service in mid-January, a second shuttle has been added that will take students to and from locations in the near off-campus area to give access to shopping centers and restaurants around Wise and Norton.
Between the normal Cavalier Connection operating hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., the second bus is available upon request to take students nearly anywhere off-campus within reason.
Students and employees requesting a ride after normal operating hours are asked to call 24 hours ahead of time, but MEOC can be somewhat lenient with that rule, Dixon said. Still said the second shuttle “will go anywhere” upon request, and that those wishing to ride need only call the MEOC hotline at 276-523-RIDE to schedule a pick-up.
“The bus can be there anywhere from five to ten minutes or sooner—it’s on demand,”, Still said.
When the second bus is on campus, it will accompany the other bus and make rounds on-campus to increases frequency of service at stops.
The suspension of regular stops at Cavalier Housing and Walk2Campus, combined with the second shuttle, has almost doubled the number of available trips on campus during regular scheduled hours.
Residents of Cavalier Housing and Walk2Campus can still call the hotline to alert the dispatcher of their location and a shuttle will be there shortly.
The cost per ride remains at 50 cents, Students and employees can purchase ride cards at the bookstore for $10 or pay cash upon boarding the bus.
Rides to events at the Prior Center remain free and travel to the Prior Center has given the shuttle its highest user levels, from 65-85 riders at each event.
While Dixon says he is grateful to offer free rides to and from the convocation center, it seems a bit disheartening that this is one of the only times students seem to take advantage of the ride service—seeing as how costs to ride the shuttle are only fifty cents to begin with.
Many promotions with MEOC have cut the costs of rides, allowed for a second shuttle to carry people off-campus, effectively doubled the amount of stops within the hour, offers free rides to events, and can be requested upon the schedules of riders with a simple call.
“We hope to keep it, but we can’t if the need isn’t there,” Dixon said, encouraging students to make use of Cavalier Connection to ease daily travel across campus.