‘Purduber’ shuttle service earns chance to let it ride another year
With help from eight drivers, mostly retired university personnel, a pilot shuttle program at Purdue University Fort Wayne has been an amazing success, especially with international students. The program—nicknamed “Purduber” by a quick-witted student when it started in January—is a collaboration between the Division of Enrollment Management and the Student Experience and the Student Government Association. Its aim is to deliver students to Walb Student Union from various student housing locations, a list that quickly expanded to include Canterbury Green Apartments.
Recently, the university informed shuttle organizers the program can continue during the fall and spring semesters of the next academic year.
According to Abbey Wang, coordinator of Student Leadership and the Student Government Association, the shuttles are providing more than 100 rides daily from campus housing on the Waterfield Campus and nearby apartment complexes. More than 2,000 rides had been tallied halfway through the semester.
“Based on the feedback I have received, we are helping the students that need it the most, and that is the best-case scenario for us!” Wang said. “We have gotten an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, but we have also gotten requests for additional routes.”
When Larry Temenoff was asked to help drive in the pilot program, he felt compelled to participate.
“I always felt blessed, and the people at the university treated me very well, and this is a natural payback,” Temenoff said. “As long as I’m capable of helping other people, I feel I should.”
The retired PFW telecommunications and network analyst told how his grandparents came to America as refugees from World War I Macedonia, where many were dying and starving. They met, married, and raised their family here, including Temenoff’s father. They also sent money and food back to Macedonia, so much that when Temenoff visited years later, his family was still revered.
“I can really relate to international students and what they are going through,” Temenoff said. “They separate from their family, and live in a foreign culture, and it brings back memories of my ancestors and how they were when they first came to this country.”
The Friday afternoon runs to Kroger, which Temenoff drives, also proved popular as he twice fills up the eight-passenger van with students.
“A lot of them have questions about American culture,” Temenoff said. “I like to explain things that may not be in the books.”
The other drivers—Dennis Shadle, Maria DelaRosa, Tony Knox, Sam Marquardt, Greg Bowton, Kirk Sanders, and Bob Creager—have similar stories. DelaRosa helped a student dealing with the death of his father when he needed someone to talk to.
The exchanges between driver and rider can also be lighthearted.
“It’s a fun thing to do, and it’s part-time,” Shadle said. “it’s been very interesting to talk to the students.”
For those who have taken advantage of the opportunity, many are very grateful.
“It has made my campus experience smoother as I do not arrive exhausted to my classes from walking,” said computer science graduate student Neha Rajeeva. “I am also on time for many of the events because it is efficient for going and coming from student housing. On pantry days, it helps me with all the baggage I had to carry alone if not for the shuttle program. I also get to interact with other students on the ride, which has increased my communication with a lot of people.”
Rajeeva hopes the trips can extend after late classes and expand to other stores as well.
“The shuttle experience has been great for me,” student Kaden Benjamin said. “It came at a time when I really needed it, too. My car broke down, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get to class, but then I learned about the shuttle and started taking it. It’s been incredible for me. The drivers are all very nice and interesting to talk with. It’s made my campus experience much better.”
Benjamin said he catches a shuttle three or four times a week.
“It has been an essential aspect of my university experience, enabling safe and convenient travel between campus and the apartment,” said graduate student Shamistan Allahverdiyev. “The drivers are friendly, professional, and punctual, making the shuttle experience comfortable and enjoyable. I appreciate the university's investment in this program, which has made a positive impact on my academic and personal life.”
Allahverdiyev said each shuttle trip saves him 35–40 minutes of walking.