Some students’ only safe and reliable route to Texas State will unfairly vanish this fall when the Bobcat Tram Interurban routes cease to operate.
One of the aspects passengers enjoy about the interurban buses is safety. Often students believe riding the bus is safer than driving personal vehicles for a number of reasons, and some Texas statistics validate their feelings.
On average, one person in Texas was murdered every seven hours in 2010, according to the “Texas Crime Clock” published by the Department of Public Safety. This statistic may not seem very high since Texas is a big state. However, that number pales in comparison to the danger Texas drivers face every day—one person is killed approximately every 2 hours and 54 minutes, according to statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation.
In 2011, 152 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in my home county of Bexar, according to statistics from TxDOT. That same year, 275 total people died in motor vehicle incidents within the counties that encompass San Antonio, New Braunfels, Austin and San Marcos. It is unfortunate so many Texas State students commute to campus by car on these dangerous roadways everyday. In addition, the statistics indicated people of college age are at a significantly higher risk for vehicle crashes than the rest of the population.
People may think fatal traffic crashes tend to involve multiple vehicles. However, “single-vehicle run-off-the-road crashes” accounted for 40 percent of all motor vehicle traffic deaths in 2009. Undivided roads with four or more lanes have the highest rate of deadly traffic crashes, according to the same statistics. The layouts of Aquarena Springs Drive and Hopkins Street fit into this category. A total of 768 people sitting in the “front left occupant position” died two years ago on undivided roads with four or more lanes in Texas. Morbid? Yes, but these statistics from TxDOT are pertinent to the Texas State community.
Pedestrianism and biking can only provide slight reprieves from urbanization and motorized mayhem on the roadways. It is not plausible for everyone to ride a motorcycle, walk to campus or use multimodal transportation. However, the interurban bus provides a relatively safe and sometimes the only option for students who cannot utilize alternate transportation.
Ollyanne Offor, education junior, said she rides the tram because it is “safe.” Offor said the glare from car headlights blurs her vision and hurts the eyes when she drives. It may seem like a minor complaint, but impaired visibility was a contributing factor in 42 fatal crashes in 2011, according to TxDOT statistics.
Christina Rodriguez, political science master’s student, said she is thankful for the trams. She is able to “debrief” instead of having to be “mentally awake and mentally focused” while driving. TxDOT statistics indicate fatigue or “asleep” were identified as contributing factors in 136 fatal crashes. There are far too many Texans who are unwilling to accept the taxing physical and mental responsibilities of driving.
Transportation services officials noted concern for student safety on trams as a reason for the elimination of the interurban bus service this fall in a Jan. 31 campus-wide email. There were 3,015 motor vehicle crash fatalities in 2011, and only two involved were passengers on a bus, according to the TxDOT statistics. However, it appears as though students’ substantiated safety concerns for riding the interurban trams will be void in the coming months.