One night on the ‘drunk bus’

 

The student-dubbed “drunk bus” is much more than a late night ride downtown. 

Officially called the Late Night Off-Campus Shuttle, this bus brings students to and from campus and downtown on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Cynic took a look at what really happens on the “drunk bus” by riding the route with driver Walter Gulfield.

At 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 17, Green Mtn. Concert Services officer Tom Rider stood in his yellow jacket outside the Living/Learning Center, to ensure that students got on and off the bus safely.

“[I like] mingling with the students, making everybody feel safe and having a good time doing it,” Rider said.

Rider said he has been doing this job for three years and has not run into a problem where he wouldn’t let students on the bus.

The only time students do not get on right away is when the crowds get too big and there isn’t room on the bus, he said.

“That always happens, and you just have to let the students know that the next bus is coming,” Rider said. 

The worst part about this job is cold nights; the best is watching all the smiling faces, he said.

One of the rules of the bus is no open containers, Rider said.

“We have them dump it out and put it in a trash can on the bus,” he said.

This did not stop many of the students from whipping out water bottles full of colored liquid and even a 40 ounce bottle of malt liquor once seated on the bus.

“If I finish this on the bus do I get 100 bucks?” sophomore Danielle Marder asked her friends of her discolored Vitamin Water. 

The bus stopped on Athletic Campus and opened its doors to a line of pushing and shoving students, some clad in short skirts and heels.

By 11:01 p.m., the bus was so crowded that there was standing room only. Students swayed back and forth even when the bus wasn’t moving and used other students to keep themselves from falling over.

By 11:15 p.m., with windows fogged from the sheer number of bodies onboard, the security officers announced on their walkie-talkies that 53 people were on the 35 seat bus.

By this time, the buzz of chatter limited talking to the person sitting next to you, and the entire bus smelled of alcohol.

Sophomore Jillian Blaisdell said she has personally gotten to know a number of the security officers and bus drivers during her rides downtown, and one friend commented on how Blaisdell was Facebook friends with one of the drivers.

The night’s driver, Gulfield, said the late night shuttle is a great service for students because it gets them back and forth safely. 

“My favorite part is the interaction with the students and seeing them enjoy themselves,” he said.

At 11:35 p.m. one student yelled to a friend that it was their stop, but the bus had already begun to pull away. Many others on the bus made jeers and catcalls at the student who had missed her stop.

To make sure students do not miss their stops, Gulfield said he enjoys trying to teach them where the correct bus stop is since the route changed at the beginning of the semester.

“[The new stop] has a more central location and is a safer stop because the bus doesn’t go out into the intersection,” he said.

Sophomore Alexis Resnick said her favorite part of riding the bus is all the fun people you can find on it.

“I love the bus unless people throw up on it; [then] it’s not cool,” Resnick said.

When students get sick, the bus does have to be evacuated, Gulfield said.

“I personally offer them a plastic bag if they aren’t feeling well,” he said. “We hope it doesn’t happen.”

Gulfield crossed his fingers as he said that students do not get sick often, and it has not happened to him this semester, although other buses have been evacuated recently.

At 11:45 p.m., the bus stopped in front of the Davis Center on Central Campus.

“Anybody for the library?” Gulfield asked when no one got off the bus. “Any studiers here tonight?” 

Later in the night, students welcomed interviews and said meeting new people or making friends were some of the main reasons the “drunk bus” is so much fun.

“It’s convenient,” sophomore Matt Hollingsworth said. “Usually there’s a lot of cool people.”

A number of students commented on the strange things that people encounter when riding the “drunk bus.”

“I saw someone get tackled,” sophomore Danielle Marder said.

Resnick said she once watched someone play the trumpet on the bus.

Another odd occurrence on the bus is when friends lose track of other friends and they “disappear,” Resnick said.

“You never know where your friends are gonna be,” she said. “You might find them here, you might find them there. It’s the magic of the bus, man.”

Although most of the comments from students were positive, there were a few complaints about the shuttle.

“You can’t bring food on,” sophomore Tana McCoy said. “One time we stopped at Mike’s and we had a whole pizza, and they were like, ‘no, no, no.'” 

Sophomore David Ornstein said nothing was bad about the bus except running for it if you are late to the stop.

“Running for the bus definitely fucking sucks,” Ornstein said. “Nothing [else is bad]; he’s the best driver ever; I got a cramp from running, though.”

Sophomore Liz Cote said that the bus is convenient unless it is too crowded.

“That is the worst,” Cote said. “I don’t know if you can swear, but the fucking worst.”

Around midnight, McCoy, Cote and Marder sang the single by Steam, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” on their ride to Hyde Street.

“It’s the best, honestly, when everyone starts singing songs and you’re just belting it out,” McCoy said.

Other songs students mentioned singing on their bus rides included “All Star” by Smash Mouth, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and “We like to party” by the Vengaboys.

Resnick and sophomore Blair Borax chanted the chorus of “We like to party,” until meeting up with their friend at the Pearl Street Beverage stop. 

“We like to party,” Resnick said. “But what we really like is the bus.” 

Although she was still heading downtown, Marder said she enjoyed the ride home more than the ride down the hill.

“The ride home is good because you’re so drunk — everyone’s ready to crash but still hanging in there,” she said.

Returning to campus past midnight, the bus continued its rounds without much of a lull in crowds, Rider said, until the last stop downtown at 3 a.m.