Blackhawk Technical College offering new shuttle system between campuses
JANESVILLE — Starting Monday, Blackhawk Technical College will offer a new system-wide bus route for students.
"It came from a series of meetings with students about what we needed to do to help them. We heard again and again that there was a number of students with transportation issues getting to different sites, " said Edward Robinson, vice president of student services.
Two free shuttles will take students to and from the college's Janesville Central Campus, Beloit Campus, Monroe Campus, Milton Advanced Manufacturing Center and Janesville Center for Transportation Studies.
"Having reliable transportation is important to the success of our students," Robinson said. "Some don't have vehicles and have to rely on their family to get them from site to site. This puts more control in their hands for what they may need to do."
Robinson said the shuttles will allow students to take classes they need at different sites throughout the day. It also gives them more flexibility with other commitments, such as jobs or children care, Robinson said.
"What's nice about this is the availability of the shuttle allows them to take classes at different campuses," Robinson said. "It opens up a whole lot more options if a class is available in Janesville or Monroe that fits more into their schedule."
The routes will run 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. The college has hired five part-time drivers for the 24- and 16-passenger college-owned shuttles, Robinson said.
Purchasing the two shuttles and applying logos to the vehicles cost the college $138,000, according to the school's 2014-15 budget.
The cost of paying the drivers is yet to be determined and will be based on how many hours each driver works and which driver works what hours, Robinson said. Costs for gas and insurance were not immediately known, he said.
"We looked at other services and terms of contracts and decided it was more economical to purchase our own shuttles through capital funds," Robinson said. "Both shuttles are handicap accessible and will have good, qualified drivers."
Robinson made it clear the shuttle program is in no way tied BTC's failed referendum. He said the shuttles were paid for through capital funds, while the referendum was for operational funding.
The new shuttles will not alter the public bus schedule that serves the Beloit campus and central campus each weekday between 6:15 a.m. and 5:40 p.m., Robinson said.
Robinson said he is hopeful the demand for shuttles is high and additional routes can be added in the future.
"We do know there are a number of students going to each site," Robinson said. "We are hoping that each route and every shuttle will be full. We want them to be utilized every time they go out on the road."
Student organizations can use the shuttles on weekends to travel to events rather than chartering buses, Robinson said.
"This is certainly an awesome opportunity," Robinson said. "As far as I know, we are the only technical college in the state with a shuttle system. It shows that we are listening to our students and their needs and are providing them with top level services in order for them to be successful."