After Florida A&M University altered its transportation deal with StarMetro, a great amount of students were forced to adjust to a brand new shuttle system that was pitched with a lot of promises but implemented with many shortcomings.
In June 2016, FAMU parted ways with StarMetro’s three bus Venom Express system, cutting the university’s off-campus transportation options down to a two 25-seat shuttle service. Students were promised more stops, weekend operation, and a system that runs more frequently.
Since its start in Fall 2016, additional changes to the new system included shuttles dedicated to either on or off campus routes which reduces the amount of stops per vehicle, as well as offering transportation to the Florida State University and FAMU’s shared college of engineering.
Freshman political science student Adriana Bayles said she sees consistent improvement during her time taking the shuttle, however she hopes to see route expansions in the future.
“The only downside is the limited routes. I would like to see some of them go to places like Walmart and maybe even add one or two more buses based on the number of students.”
On the other hand, some students miss the extra seating provided with the larger bus system including Brenajah Walker, a senior psychology student.
“As a student who faithfully takes the venoms and knows the different crowds during the day, the venom should go back to the spacious seating. The bus sometimes comes 10 minutes before class starts then there’s always the fear of the bus being too packed.”
While there have been some great changes to the shuttle service, there are still some issues with timeliness and quality customer service.
“Although I appreciate the venom and I'm glad it's here, it should be dependable because I should be able to get to class on time, especially if it's a service I'm paying for. If I want to go home why are there so many drivers around a certain time passing me by because they're getting off the clock? That doesn't happen on the city bus,” said junior biology pre-med student Jess Noel.
Ultimately students have just as many suggestions as concerns. While many have reached out to FAMU Parking Services asking for them to provide an effective tracking method for the Venom shuttles, others took matters into their own hands and created a groupme where students can depend on one another to track the Venom’s location.
There is no doubt that students will continue to ride the Venom; however, students are hoping for major improvements in the future.