Professor forecasts future of campus transit

A projected 22 percent increase in the campus population by 2020 will put added demands on the campus' shuttle bus system, but Professor of Decision Sciences Robert Saltzman has found that using new shuttles designed for faster passenger loading and offloading would ensure passenger wait times do not increase.

1.	A photo of Professor of Decision Sciences Robert Saltzman

Professor of Decision Sciences Robert Saltzman.

Even if ridership increases by 40 percent over the next few years, said Saltzman, service levels can be maintained if just two of the current fleet’s one-door shuttles are replaced with two-door shuttles.

In an article published in July by the journal Service Science, Saltzman analyzed various ridership scenarios, hoping to supply valuable information for University planners as they project the future of the campus’ free shuttle service. The service includes six shuttles that transport students, faculty and staff to and from the Daly City BART station as well as other areas on campus.

“Bigger capacity really isn’t that important,” he said. “The main thing is having two doors and a low floor,” he said. “If you have two doors you could cut the boarding and disembarking process in half.”

About 17 percent of SF State’s approximately 30,000 students, faculty and staff commute via the BART shuttle. More than 7,300 rides per day are given by a combination of SF State shuttles and the Muni 28 bus line, with 82 percent of rides provided by the shuttle, Saltzman found. He used data from a variety of sources, including the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, campus transportation planners and the campus’ 2020 master plan, which calls for a transit-oriented future.

2.	A photo of the campus shuttles

The campus shuttles transport people to and from the Daly City BART station as well as to other areas on campus.

“It involves a lot of factors and it uses some advanced concepts in the modeling language,” he said of the study. “I tried out different configurations of buses based on what I saw available online. These are all buses that are on the market.”

After settling on two-door, low-floor buses with a capacity for 39 passengers, Saltzman found that replacing two of the campus’ current shuttles -- which are now aging and outdated -- would allow for a 40 percent increase in ridership without a noticeably longer wait.

With at least 6,500 more people expected on campus by the end of this decade, Saltzman concluded "it won’t be too hard to accommodate them."

Campus planners said they will consider Saltzman’s study as they analyze the shuttle service in the future.

-- Philip Riley