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Jan. 31, 2012

Viking Loop vanishes in lieu of low usage

By Patrick Elder

The now defunct Viking Loop fleetDespite being instated merely one year prior, the Viking Loop shuttle service was discontinued for the spring 2013 semester, following a year of lackluster ridership.

The Viking Loop service consisted of two loops. The express route connected the Wolstein Center and Rhodes Tower while making stops at Heritage Hall and the Student Center. The all-campus route lived up to its namesake by circling most of campus — hitting the AMC annex, East Garage, Euclid Commons and the Arts Campus — among others.

Despite the demand from students and the Student Government Association, riders were few and far between for the Viking Loop, as it averaged only 8.67 rides per hour during its inaugural spring semester. This number dropped to an even more paltry 7.12 rides per hour during the succeeding fall semester.

“The shuttle vehicles were circling campus using gasoline and costing money to operate — and only providing 8-9 rides per hour,” said Clare Rahm, Assistant Vice President for Campus Support Services, in an email. “Applying the use data to the operating costs, each ride on the Viking Loop cost approximately $23.83 to provide.”

The service, launched on Feb. 27 of last year, was created at the behest of many students and SGA who expressed concerns related to overall campus safety —specifically about walking to and from classes — and walking distances from student parking. President Berkman instituted the service in response to these concerns.

“There was a big problem with parking,” said Chris Caspary, SGA vice president. “I thought it was a good idea to try [the Viking Loop].

“Looking back, it obviously wasn’t the best idea, but it’s easy to say that now.”

Many who rode the shuttles are concerned about its demise. Rahm mentioned that art students in particular were dependent upon the shuttles to provide safe, quick passage to the Arts Campus, which is located at the outermost fringe of Cleveland State’s campus.

“These students have been encouraged to consider riding the RTA E-Line shuttle, riding the RTA Healthline; calling the Cleveland State safety escort service and coordinating with classmates to walk together,” Rahm said.

Disregarding its inability to attract riders, the service did well from a monetary standpoint. The Viking Loop was expected to cost $415,253 for the 2012-13 academic year, not including the cost of gasoline. Halfway through the year, Cleveland State spent $200,670 including fuel on the service.

Those sniffing opportunity in a windfall of freed-up cash will be disappointed, however, according to Rahm.

“There was no dedicated funding for the shuttle service,” Rahm said. “Therefore, the decision to suspend due to low ridership allows the university to avoid further expense for a service that was not being used.”