For twelve years, the Campus Bus has run between Norrköping and Linköping – 2.5 million trips – and has become something of an institution. Despite the fact that so many students depend on the system, there is nothing like it among Swedish universities.
When Campus Norrköping was under construction around 2003, then-Vice-Chancellor Bertil Andersson came to Rolf Adell at LiU Service.
“He wanted us to get some type of buses going between campuses, and asked if I could arrange it.”
Buying their own buses was hardly an alternative.
“What comes first – the chicken or the egg? The buses or the passengers? The buses weren’t so modern and didn’t run so often, and not many people rode it. Gradually we introduced a registration system to see how many people rode it and when, so as to be able to adjust for need and optimise the trips.”
Since then, the campus bus has gradually developed for the better. When LiU signed an agreement with Östgötatrafiken after a procurement, it was possible to make demands for more modern buses that were more road-safe.
The environmental aspect was also important. Now the buses take on 85 passengers compared with 57 earlier; fewer buses for the same number of passengers reduces environmental impact.
In autumn 2012, Östgötatrafiken incorporated the campus bus into express bus route 73. It was a coordination that means that “regular” passengers can also travel on the bus with a ticket from Östgötatrafik. From the start, the campus bus was only intended for students, and employees on official business.
“This way, the bus is better utilized and that favours LiU economically,” Mr Adell explains.
The campus bus costs LiU nine million SEK every year. For every “regular” traveler who rides, a significant amount is deducted from LiU’s costs. Students ride for free on the bus, as do employees on official business. But that does not apply to trips to and from work, for tax reasons.
Some travel statistics, then. Every year, 250,000 trips are made with LiU cards on the Campus Bus. Last September, the bus had 33,000 passengers. At most, the bus drove 2,600 travellers in one day. For this to work, 26 trips were run per day – one bus an hour departs from Norrköping and Linköping, respectively. That’s 13 buses driving round-trip.
“But that’s not always enough,” Mr Adell says. “It can happen that ten trips or so must be reinforced with additional buses. If there’s a large group planning to ride the bus, it’s necessary to notify us in advance. This is done via the Campus Bus website."
Many requests come in about the buses – from groups, but chiefly from individual students and employees. One student, for example, thought they should modify the trips by seven minutes so it would fit their lectures better.
“But if one trip is changed, all the other trips are changed, and we can’t adapt the buses to one person’s wishes,” Mr Adell explains. "There may be accidents, road work or snow that cause delays, and the tall double-deckers drive more slowly in strong winds and over the Norsholm Bridge. So people should perhaps cover themselves by taking an earlier trip if they have thin margins. They can’t – as sometimes happens – come with a receipt and request compensation for having to get to the university by other means if the Campus Bus was late."
Joyous acclamations also come in. The five to seven regular drivers think it’s fun to drive the Campus Bus. There are many travellers and all of them are so conscientious – that’s one of the viewpoints Mr Adell gets at his meetings with Östgötatrafiken. The appreciation appears to be mutual. For students, the Campus Bus is important – well, actually, public transportation in general.
Better Internet connections, later trips and trips on the weekends is something Ms Johansson wants from Campus Bus.
“Many have evening labs and don’t finish up until 9:00 PM. The buses have stopped by then. And many exams are on the weekends. The university is also taking the initiative to link together students from both campuses – Demola, for example. The more projects like this, the more important the Campus Bus becomes.”
The student’s wishes are well-known. Better wireless connections is under way, although only on the regular campus buses.
“We also know that the students would like trips in the evenings and on the weekends, but that’s a financial question,” Mr Adell says. “Ultimately it’s a matter of money, which in this case would be taken from regular operations, education and research.”
It is not without pride that Mr Adell talks about the Campus Bus. And he doesn’t know of any other higher education institution who has succeeded in running this kind of operation.
“Linnaeus, Lund and others have gotten in touch and looked at how we work. But I don’t think anyone has gotten it to work as well as we have. The Campus bus was also used – in the beginning, anyway – in promoting LiU. And I think that it also contributes to LiU getting high marks in regards of an ‘eco-friendly attitude’ in the international student barometer.”
“Order and rules! One person who has total responsibility, the authority and a mandate to do things. And, at the heart of it, a professional procurement. It runs for a long period: 2012 to 2017. But it’s also a major investment; the new buses cost 25 million SEK, and no contractor will do that for a shorter period.”
And while we’re still on the eco-friendly attitude, Mr Adell tells us that the campus buses now run only on non-fossil fuel – a synthetic diesel. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 390,000 kilogrammes per year. “I’m proud of contributing to the reduction of LiU’s total environmental impact and strengthening our environmental profile.”
But there’s also a fly in the ointment. One week last fall, a pre-announced check of tickets was carried out. 1,055 cards were checked; some 60 of them were invalid – that is, the LiU cards had no visible date. Two entirely unauthorised riders were discovered and received additional fines.
“The date can be rubbed off on older cards,” Mr Adell explains. “But it’s important to get a new card. The LiU card is a form of identification.”
“I would think that once we’ve announced in advance, there would be fewer people with invalid cards. It’s a matter of six percent, but six percent of 250,000 travellers is a fair amount. And on the margins, people who sneak on take places from someone who might have to stay at the stop.”
Last updated: Mon Feb 22 09:29:30 CET 2016