Community Features

The Rise in Desire for Church Shuttles

Shuttle Service, photo courtesy of Katie Morris.

The dark, bolded letters “NOT PERMITTED” are displayed underneath the Freshmen Vehicle Policy on Point Loma Nazarene University’s Parking and Driving webpage. It is here where freshmen find that they are not allowed to bring vehicles to campus at any time.

This creates a challenge for freshmen who are looking for local church services to attend on Sundays, as they are unable to drive themselves if they have any interest in going.

Kylee Pimm, freshman international peace studies major, has been looking for local church services to attend every Sunday since arriving on campus this fall semester.

“It is very difficult not having a car as a freshman to get around to places; I have had to find a ride with an upperclassman [to church] every time, one being a random person who had a carpool,” Pimm said.

The only resource that some freshmen have for transportation to local church services is their Resident Assistant if they have a car and offers them a ride.

Senior elementary education major Denise Haight is a first year RA in Hendricks Residence Hall and has a car on campus. Having both been asked by residents for rides and been a freshman without a car herself, she relates to the struggle of finding transportation to church services.

“I was once in their shoes, so I get the pain and desire to be out and about at church and everywhere else,” Haight said.

Haight admitted that she has felt obligated to say yes to residents who have asked for rides, and that offering rides could become an expectation from residents over time.

“Realistically I know I cannot and should not [offer continuous rides], as it then becomes an expectation and it is not my job to be their Uber. Being at a Christian college, I do see and feel the need to be in community and church families, though,” Haight shares.

Haights says that multiple students have asked her if churches have shuttles that could take them to services.

“Unfortunately, most of them do not. I want the [students] to be able to attend church but I am not able to take each one to church,” she explains.

She sees local churches offering shuttle services as a resolution to the issue.

“I think that churches should put aside money to rent out a shuttle service to church services… I know personally a lot of my residents would utilize this regardless of the time and day, as they just want to go to church,” Haight says.

A popular church that many PLNU students attend is Park Hill Church, located in the Arts District of Liberty Station.

Via email, the Park Hill Church Connect Team responded, “We understand that some students rely on shuttles to attend church during their freshman year but we aren’t able to offer shuttle services.”

A local church that does offer shuttle services to PLNU students is All People’s Church. The church is a thirty minute drive from the university, located between La Mesa and downtown San Diego.

Freshman finance major Ben DuMars utilizes All People’s shuttle service. He shares that it departs from Brown Chapel on campus at 10:15 a.m. Sunday mornings for the 11 a.m. service.

“Very few know the All People’s shuttle exists. . .about thirty [students] use the church shuttle,” DuMars said.

When asked if he would benefit from the university offering their own shuttle services to local churches, DuMars said it would help him have more options in churches that may be closer to PLNU. Pimm added that university-run shuttles would decrease the stress of potentially not making it to services on time.

The conversation of PLNU potentially offering shuttle services to churches was introduced to the university’s transportation manager, Pat Francis, via an email interview. Francis started working in the department in 2001 and has been in the management position for six years. He oversees the university’s vehicles and shuttle schedules.

When asked if the transportation department has considered offering a shuttle service for students on Sundays to local churches, he responded, “We have looked at the possibility of ‘church stops’ before. The challenge is figuring out criteria for those stops.”

Two of those criteria include popularity and the drivers’ shifts, which are limited by the state of California.

Francis explained, “If we started the Sunday shuttle service sooner [in the day], we’d have to cut back those hours later in the day, which is when we have a lot of riders.”

The transportation manager wrote that university services leadership meets with PLNU’s ASB, Residential Life and Student Senate on a regular basis to make shuttle adjustments accordingly throughout the years.

For students who struggle to find rides to their churches, Francis shared, “On this particular issue, we strongly encourage students to work with their churches. We all believe strongly in being a part of a local church community.”

Haight adds that local churches offering these services will aid the community as a whole, and calls for them to start offering shuttles for PLNU students.

“The whole point of being a part of a Christian community is to come together. When the local churches have a great population of Loma students that are not able to come to service, [those students] are missing out on that community,” Haight said.

By: Katie Morris