Law students push for shuttle bus to stop at Union Station


Jack Dombro

A bus at DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus awaits a load of students to shuttle to the Loop.

A typical weekday night at the College of Law can look a lot like a kindergarten class being let out at the end of the school day, according to Haley Pennington, the Student Government Association (SGA) senator for the College of Law and second year law student.

Everyone files out of the revolving door and meets with their parents who drive in from the suburbs. Those who live nearby walk home, and some walk to the Union Station to head home.

While the typical kindergarten experience seems light and fuzzy, the reality of this situation is that many students have to stay alert as they walk late at night, clutching onto their pepper spray and safety alarms.

“It sucks because law students have a totally different DePaul experience than most,” said Kellen Brown, the SGA Chief of Staff and senior. “They’re in the Loop a lot longer than most students are, especially later at night as well.”

Although students are able to take the CTA to the Union Station, Pennington said many students feel unsafe when commuting late at night, and the shuttle provides an alternative way to reach the station.

To mitigate student’s safety concerns, Pennington said they are pushing for DePaul to include several new stops, including one at Union Station on the shuttle bus schedule.

“We definitely need a better strategy,” Pennington said. “I think the shuttle is one of those ways to stop that. Because I’ve actually seen students who are from the suburbs, I’ve seen their parents drive all the way into the Loop and pick them up, and that is just not necessary when we have a shuttle that could drop you from door to door.”

Russell Dorn, a spokesperson for DePaul, said in a statement, “the administration is prepared to work with representatives from Student Government and with our shuttle vendor to determine the feasibility of extending limited service to the commuter rail stations.”

Brown said he and other members from SGA have met with DePaul’s leadership team to discuss this issue. According to Brown, this meeting took place over a month ago and since then, they have been working on adding a stop at Union Station. However, Brown said when he followed up with the leaders on March 1, they told him they are unable to allow the shuttle to stop at Union at this time because of scheduling and budget constraints. 

Dorn confirmed this when he told The DePaulia via email that “it is not possible to determine an implementation timeline before determining the feasibility and logistics related to this proposed change in service.”

“We’re not done,” Brown said. “We’re going to keep pushing it, but I know the university, even if they did approve it, they were going to [make it] like a pilot basis to see how many students actually got off at Union.” 

Pennington said that while she is looking forward to there being a pilot program for the shuttle to stop at Union Station, she said that through this whole process there has been “no openness. There’s no transparency.”

She said the student body should be made aware about plans like this because they affect the entire student body, even if they are not implemented yet. 

Brown said something beneficial that he wants to do is survey people in the Loop, not just law students, and see if a stop on the shuttle at Union Station would be something they would want. He said that if the numbers are high and people show interest, they can take the numbers to the university leaders and get the pilot program to be underway faster than it is being done currently.

“A lot of these things, especially with the shuttle, SGA is doing our best to try to navigate reality in terms of budget constraints and resources and whatever it may be,” Brown said. “I know that for law students, it’s terrible to walk late at night from Union Station to the Loop or wherever they’re walking to, and that’s not an acceptable situation, and that’s something that we’re going to make sure we address going forward as quickly as the student body possibly can, given the circumstances.”

Pennington said for students who are interested in public safety issues on campus or while commuting, there is going to be a Public Safety Town Hall event on March 8 hosted by SGA and the Student Bar Association (SBA). The town hall will take place in DePaul Center Room 8005 at noon. Lunch will be provided.

There will be a panel including David Harris, the commander of the first district of Chicago Police Department; Commander Joe Bird of CPD’s Public Transportation Section; Kevin Ryan, the vice president of security for the CTA; Robert Wachowski, the Public Safety Director for DePaul; and Kevin Connolly, the public safety Assistant Director for DePaul.

For those with questions for the panel members, there is a Google Form that they can submit questions to. Students can submit questions even if they are unable to be at the town hall.