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A useful resource for students

Observer Editorial Board | Friday, November 6, 2009

Going off campus to head downtown can be costly, and sometimes less than safe, especially when alcohol is involved. Student government and the Office of Student Affairs have teamed up with local transport authority Transpo to offer a safer, more convenient form of transportation for both off- and on-campus students.

The new bus service — which will begin at Library Circle and wind its way through student neighborhoods and downtown South Bend before returning to campus some 36 minutes later — is one of the main initiatives of the Schmidt-Weber administration.

There are several advantages to this initiative; foremost among them is safety. Students who live close to to the stops will no longer have to worry about cab fares or designated drivers, or worse relying on the least intoxicated person to drive them home.

Even though there are benefits to taking the bus, there are still some concerns students should keep in mind. If you have to walk three or four blocks from one of the stops to get to your apartment or house, that puts you at risk — law enforcement consistently tells students not to walk long distances at night.

Although at this point the route is tentative and cannot possibly hit all student housing, it’s a good start. At this point, it will cover places that the Transpo sees as well lit and safe.

The weekend route will cost $25,000, of which $11,000 will be put up by the University through the Office of Student Affairs. Their move to help finance the project shows the University taking a step in the right direction in making student living off and on campus safer.

Fr. Mark Poorman, vice president for Student Affairs, said the Office would continue to help fund the service as long as student government can hold up their end of the financing and as long as the bus is used by enough students.

All that being said, student government should be commended for their efforts. They’ve committed $14,000 to support the new route and worked closely with Transpo and University administators to implement the idea. In doing this, they are offering students a convenient and safe way to travel off campus on late weekend nights.

Chip Lewis, chairman of the Board of Directors for Transpo, said he was impressed with how the student government handled the situation and he is offering the service for exactly the price it costs the company to run it — a sign that the community is willing to do its part to foster a better relationship with the University and its students.

Student government should be commended for following through on one of their main initiatives, one which should be a positive development for many students.