At 4:30 a.m. the Long Beach State campus shuttles are fueled up for another day of student transportation.
Students flashing their sticker-bearing student ID cards boarding the Los Coyotes shuttle are greeted by driver Melvin Love’s warm smile and sincere “good morning.”
Contracted by LAZ Parking, Love was hired at the beginning of the fall semester. In his 20 years prior to working at CSULB, Love has worked as a driver for Orange County Transportation Authority, California State University, Dominguez Hills and Loyola Marymount University.
“I love coming to work, for me this is a lot of fun,” Love said. “If kids want to get to school, I’ll get them there.”
The CSULB campus shuttle program has three on-campus routes: East Loop, West Loop and the All-Campus Tripper. There are also two shuttles for off-campus residents: the Beachside shuttle and the Los Coyotes shuttle.
Robyn Ames-Woodyard, director of parking and transportation said the shuttle program averages about 85,000 rides per semester.
“$1,163,110 [sic] was spent on shuttle services for the academic year, equating to about $500,000 a semester,” Ames-Woodyard said in an email. “The shuttle program regularly [assesses] shuttle demand and does its best to adjust accordingly.”
Love said the best part of his job is interacting with polite students even though they may be tired or in a rush.
“I always thought it interesting in today’s society people can learn a lot from public transportation,” Love said. “Here on this shuttle we are a family. Everyone on board is going towards the same goal of bettering their future.”
Byanca Williams, a fourth-year recreation therapy major, said the Los Coyotes shuttle gives her a way to school that she wouldn’t typically have.
“I don’t have a car so the shuttle is perfect,” Williams said. “Before the shuttle and transits were free, now they charged us $45 this semester and it was hard to obtain. I feel the parking situation is affecting more than just the students.”
The Los Coyotes shuttle can seat up to 35 people and it usually fills up around 9 a.m., according to Love. Ames-Woodyard said 519 permits for the Los Coyotes shuttle were sold this semester.
This semester the drivers have experienced an influx of complaint calls about shuttles drivers’ long breaks. Drivers are given a schedule they have to follow to make sure they are always on time.
“I’m thinking if students knew our wait time schedules, there would be less complaints,” Love said. “Calls have cut down a lot when I’ve given students the mandatory break time schedule of drivers. If we’re late, it’s usually only a few minutes and we make the time up between routes.”
West Loop shuttle driver Brandy Crump has been driving students around campus for nearly two years and she has a total of 20 years of experience in public transportation.
Crump has developed regulars that pick up conversations where they left off over the last two years. Her dedication to being on time is appreciated by most of her riders.
Diana Boreon, a fourth-year international studies student, said the shuttles are comfortable and convenient.
“The shuttles are always on time and I’ve never had an issue,” Boreon said. “With the ride systems app, we can track where shuttles are and what time they are coming and I find it really useful.”
The ride system app allows students to use real-time GPS tracking to locate any of the shuttles in operation on campus.
Crump said she appreciates the politeness of students that use good manners when boarding and getting off the shuttle.
“I enjoy seeing students working hard for their future. It inspires me to call my son and ask him when he’s getting back to school,” Crump said.