The shuttles are a private service that transports LUX residents to areas all around campus and back to the apartments on Central Park Lane, off Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The service includes two private shuttles with routes that coincide with major public transit routes, including Chapel Hill Transit’s U and RU routes.
Carrboro Alderman Damon Seils took to Twitter on Monday to express his frustration with the shuttle service.
“Just saw a private @LUX_ChapelHill shuttle sitting in a bus-only lane blocking public buses from accessing a major bus stop.”
The LUX Twitter account responded that day: “Good Morning @damonseils, We are an authorized user of several bus stops as we transport large groups of people.”
The LUX account removed its tweet on Tuesday. The company did not respond to multiple calls for comment Tuesday and Wednesday.
Lt. Josh Mecimore of the Chapel Hill Police Department said private shuttling services have the right to use public transport stops.
“You can’t park in a bus stop, but if a car pulls up, they can drop people off or pick people up. There’s nothing in our town ordinances that limits their ability to do that,” he said.
Mecimore said because the shuttling service is an amenity to LUX residents, it is not under the town’s control.
Seils said he put his concerns on Twitter when he saw how the LUX shuttles were affecting public transit stops.
“I saw a private shuttle service directly interfering with our public bus system, and it happens every day,” Seils said.
Chapel Hill Transit Director Brian Litchfield said the organization is investigating the issue, though it will take time.
“We’re aware of the shuttles beginning to utilize public bus stops, and that’s something that we have been talking with our legal staff about,” he said.
Freshman Micah Rogers said she does not think LUX shuttles should be allowed to use public transit lanes.
“I mean, if they want to open them to the public, then they are welcome to use the public lanes,” Rogers said.
Seils said he has two concerns about private services.
“The students are having to pay for those services, and they are already paying for public services that they need to be riding so that public services will survive,” Seils said. “Private shuttle services, if they proliferate in our community, are actually a threat to our public transport system.”
Seils said another upsetting factor is where the LUX shuttles offer their services.
“It’s also interesting to me, and also troubling to me, that this kind of service is being run along with the most heavily serviced transit corridor in our community,” Seils said. “It just seems like, in addition to the other issues that I raised, this service strikes me as redundant.”