By Eleanor Tay and Shabana Begum
FRUSTRATED by shuttle buses bypassing the bus stop near their Halls of Residence, North Hill precinct residents have launched an online petition calling for the University to have the Campus Loop Red bus stop outside Hall 11.
According to the petition, the Hall 11 bus stop is centrally located around Halls 10, 11 and North Hill — comprising Banyan, Binjai and Tanjong Halls —, putting it in the “best position” to serve all five halls in the area.
The petition also states that if the Red shuttle bus stops at the Hall 11 bus stop, North Hill residents can shave about 10 minutes off travelling to the Lee Wee Nam Library.
Only a two-minute walk away from the North Hill precinct, that bus stop is currently serviced only by SBS Bus Service 199.
North Hill residents who wish to board the Red bus can only take it from the nearby Graduate Halls 1 and 2 — an eight-minute uphill walk away.
Inconvenient and crowded
The petition, which was launched in January, has received 214 signatures as of 28 Feb, exceeding its initial aim of 200.
Chinese exchange student Xiang Zhou, 20, from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, had signed the petition. He said it gets inconvenient especially when it rains.
Students also say the Graduate Hall bus stop has become crowded, especially during peak hours.
It now has to accommodate the influx of new North Hill hall residents, in addition to residents from the existing Halls 10, 11 and the graduate halls.
Hall 11 resident Neo Jin, a first-year School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student, said: “At around 9am, there are a lot of people waiting at the bus stop and when the Red Campus Loop is delayed, the crowd accumulates.”
The 21-year-old added that he has arrived late to class a few times because he is unable to board the earlier buses.
Most students use the Red bus to travel to the North Spine, as the Campus Loop Blue shuttle bus only stops opposite the National Institute of Education.
Refine Seah, 21, is one of those planning to sign the petition.
“The Graduate Hall bus stop is too far away,” the second-year Nanyang Business School student said. “I would rather take the Blue line and go one round.”
Until two years ago, the Hall 11 bus stop was a regular stop on the Red line’s route.
But this changed in 2013, when the University amended the shuttle bus routes following complaints from the student body on poor bus flow due to frequent stops.
Chief Housing and Auxiliary Services (HAS) officer Jimmy Lee said: “The current bus routes were drawn up in 2013 to achieve a balance between reducing waiting time, improving frequency and ensuring students’ safety.”
When asked what he would do if the petition did not convince the authorities, Banyan Hall resident How Jia Qi, 22, a second-year student at the School of Physical and Mathematical Science, said: “I’m willing to participate in greater calls to action if there is sufficient support from other residents.”
In response to queries from the Chronicle, the NTUSU said they have been closely observing the frequency of the shuttle buses and are planning a joint meeting with the HAS soon to improve the situation for North Hill residents.
Hall Cluster Representatives are also now invited to attend the monthly Union Council Meetings, said NTUSU President Gan Rui Yun.
To cater to the demand at the North Hill precinct, the Campus Loop Yellow bus now stops in front of the North Hill halls.
The Yellow bus takes passengers to the Administration Building, but operates only for a few hours in the morning and in the afternoon.
An additional Blue bus has also been deployed from 8am to 10.30am, a move welcomed by many students who alight at the Innovation Centre to go to the Hive or the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HSS).
But some North Hill residents feel that the Yellow line’s extra stop makes little difference to their schedules because the bus stops at the Child Care Centre and Campus Clubhouse, which are places students usually do not visit.
Others think the campus bus system should be fully re-evaluated, given the success of the petition.
Besides the North Hill precinct, they said other residential halls face similar issues.
“The arrangement of the buses need to be updated because the Blue line doesn’t stop at Pioneer and Crescent halls either,” said second-year HSS student Nicholas De Silver, 22, who stays at Binjai Hall.
Binjai Hall resident Darren Queen, 24, a fourth-year student from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said: “Hall 15 has it worse. From Block 72, the Blue line is far, and the Red line is even further.
“I feel that that’s a bigger problem than North Hill.”