A shuttle service is ‘critical’ for ADA


Jiselle Cardenas/The Collegian

The shuttle service bus stop in front of the North Gym roundabout near Campus Drive Circle, with postings of the weekly schedule.

By Jiselle Cardenas, News Editor

Before the pandemic, the Bulldog Express was a free shuttle service for students and faculty with multiple stops that ranged from Millbrook Avenue to the Palazzo apartments at Campus Pointe.

This service was crucial for people such as Amin Makkawy, a professor in the Communication department, who is visually impaired and requires ADA accommodations.

“A service like this is critical due to the increased construction activity on campus that can make it especially difficult for people with disabilities to navigate the campus, but it is also a crucial building block in the continued development of an educational institution that is well-connected with the community it serves,” Makkawy said.

After the Bulldog Express was canceled due to Covid, a limited shuttle service of two seven-passenger vans is currently available in response to construction of the CUPR Project.

It was first announced on Jan. 19 as a temporary program for the spring semester. 

Although there are alternative options, riders such as Makkawy, said that the service is very limited, especially for ADA accessibility.

“I find that the current shuttle service provided by Fresno State is lacking. Essentially, it connects two points on campus. With the current construction projects, which are significant to the campus, having such a limited shuttle service is problematic,” Makkawy said.

The vans are only marked with the words “Fresno State,” no indication that it is a shuttle. One van is white and the other is dark blue.

The current shuttle system seats six riders, excluding the driver, and only has two stops: Save Mart Center Parking (Lot 1) and Campus Drive Circle near the North Gym, operating from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and stopping approximately every 20 minutes.

Both stops are still relatively far from most parts of campus.

For Makkawy, the stop takes him to the Campus Drive Circle, and he still has to navigate through construction to the opposite side of the Speech Arts Building. 

This is approximately a 10-minute walk. However, this walk takes longer amid all the obstacles. Fresno State community members with disabilities have shared their concerns about the lack of ADA accessibility on campus before

Derek Brantley, Fresno State Police Department parking and transportation manager, told The Collegian that requests for ADA (wheelchair) accommodations are being handled through the SCOUT program.

The SCOUT program provides on-campus transportation for students who are approved for accommodation by an assigned access specialist. 

Makkawy said the SCOUT program is only on campus, so it isn’t helpful for him because it  doesn’t connect to the surrounding community.

 “I also value regularly scheduled shuttle services that do not have to be individually arranged. It’s about freedom to move and connect on my own schedule, which is always in flux,” Makkawy added.

Other than SCOUT, Brantley said the Bulldog Express may make its return as another option. 

“If the Bulldog Express is relaunched in the future, associated vehicles will be equipped with appropriate ADA accommodations,” he said.

When asked about student experiences with the shuttle service, a lot of students were unaware Fresno State had a shuttle service. For those taking night classes, the service is unavailable to them. 

Gina Martinez told The Collegian her experience after she was asked about how helpful the shuttle is for her. 

“[It’s] not for night students. According to the transportation department, the shuttle from outlying parking lots to campus stops running at 4 p.m.,” Martinez said.

One of the shuttle drivers told The Collegian that it is a useful service for students but that it could use better exposure.

“It’s my job, but at the same time I want more people to make use of it [and] a lot of people don’t. There was an email sent out and I know a lot of people don’t look at their emails like that,” the driver said.

The driver, who chose to remain anonymous, said since the launch of the service, numbers have gone up due to students inquiring about what the van is for. According to the driver, a lot of riders have found out about the service through word of mouth.

Questions from students and faculty about when the Bulldog Express will return have been circulating around campus.

“We are currently in the process of issuing a Request for Proposal to determine the financial feasibility of relaunching the Bulldog Express (full shuttle system) for the 2023/24 academic year,” Brantley said. 

Makkawy, who was able to utilize the Bulldog Express in its “pre-pandemic form,” said that it was a great asset to campus.

“I would like to see a return, and possibly an expansion, to the Bulldog Express service. With the new student union, and other campus improvement projects, an expanded shuttle service would make the campus more accessible to its surroundings, bolster student engagement and indicate to the community at large that Fresno State is a pillar to the Fresno area,” Makkawy said. 

For more information on the SCOUT program, contact [email protected] or call 559-278-2811.