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New bus route packed on first trips

Madeline Buckley | Monday, December 7, 2009

For senior Tommy Schanzer, riding the weekend Transpo bus home after a night out was like an after party.

“I got on and saw so many people I knew,” Schanzer, who rode the bus to his off-campus home from the Blarney Stone, commonly referred to as Finnegan’s. “It was a really fun, cool atmosphere.”

On Friday night, the first run of the new weekend bus route, 496 people rode the bus, according to Chip Lewis, chairman of the Board of Directors for Transpo.

“That number was much higher than expected,” he said. “We expect ridership will build from there.”

Lewis said it is likely that all the riders were students and there were no behavioral issues this weekend.

“Everyone was excited to have this option and we didn’t have any problems and we don’t anticipate any problems,” he said.

The new Transpo route is an initiative of student government and partially funded by the Office of Student Affairs.

Student body president Grant Schmidt and student body vice president Cynthia Weber began working on creating a bus route for students to use on the weekends as a safe and reliable way to travel off campus for the weekend.

“Hopefully this will become a staple in how students get on and off campus on the weekends,” he said.

The route starts at Library Circle, runs through student neighborhoods and stops near the Linebacker Lounge, Fiddler’s Hearth, Madison Oyster Bar and Corby’s Irish Pub, as well as Finnegan’s.

Schmidt said he was happy to hear about the high number of student riders on Friday. Numbers for Saturday’s ridership were not available on Sunday.

“It was really important for this weekend to be successful,” he said. “But the buses were literally packed.”

He said the only issues he heard from students were people not knowing the time schedule of the bus route.

“People just need to get used to approximating when the buses arrive,” he said.
Overall, riding the bus was a good time, Schmidt said. 

“On Saturday night, people were singing Christmas Carols together,” he said. “People were legitimately having a good time.”

Junior Ryan Hawley rode the bus both Friday and Saturday night and was able to flag down the bus on Twyckenham Drive after walking from his Irish Row apartment.

“It was really easy. I just stood on the route and flagged the bus down,” he said.
Hawley said the bus he took was packed on Friday night.

“You literally couldn’t move,” he said. “There weren’t as many people riding on Saturday but it was still pretty full.”

Schanzer took the bus home from Finnegan’s by chance as it was outside of the bar when he was leaving.

“The fact that the bus was there when the bar closed was really convenient,” he said. “You can save the three dollars you would pay for a cab with and buy another drink.”

When he got on the bus at the end of the night, Schanzer said there were about 80 other students on the bus.

“All my friends were able to get on and it dropped us right by my house,” he said.
Schmidt said the buses will run this weekend during study days, but he does not think it will run the weekend after, and then it will start up again the first weekend of the spring semester.

“When people get back from Christmas break, we want to have a laminated card with the schedule for students to put in their pockets or purses,” he said. “And then we want to make a more student friendly version with all the bars labeled.”