Drunk Bus Tests Out New Route on Campus

In an effort to quell overfilling and unruly behavior, Transportation Services has added a bus and stepped up security on weekend late-night routes. According to late-night driver Dave Lobdell, up to 80 students at a time have been riding buses that have a safe capacity of 50. “They pull the doors open after I try to close them,” Lobdell said. “It makes the trip up Maple St. particularly hard on the bus, causing all kinds of mechanical problems.” Lobdell regularly experiences students running in front of moving buses and bringing marijuana and open containers of alcohol on board. “This is lawsuit material,” he said. “Students are banging on the sides of buses at the stops,” Katherine Decarreau, director of Transportation and Parking Services said. “It makes the drivers think they’ve hit someone.” According to Decarreau, drivers are liable for what happens on their bus, and many are in fear of losing their commercial driver’s licenses. “That’s their livelihood,” she pointed out. Transportation Services recently added a third bus to the late-night route and tripled security at bus stops in attempts to alleviate growing problems, according to Lobdell. And so far it’s working. “Last weekend was the best weekend we’ve had,” Decarreau said, regarding the first weekend new measures were in place. She expects them to remain for the rest of the semester, “unless something goes very wrong.” SGA has also helped in bringing order to bus stops by talking to students and distributing chocolate and flyers during late-night bus service hours. Lobdell attributes much of the recent improvement to their work. Lobdell alluded to the possibility of the termination of the late-night route. “There has been talk about it,” Lobdell said, “but I think getting kids in and out of the neighborhoods safely is a worthwhile goal.” Student safety has become a primary focus for the late-night bus service. Lobdell made it clear that he has noticed an increase in female passengers since Michelle Gardner-Quinn’s kidnapping in September. Decarreau says termination is unlikely. “With some cooperation from students – by not engaging in unsafe actions and in challenging other students who do – I think we can have a successful system.” The late-night routes were originally added as a way to move students through neighborhoods quietly, and “to maintain good relationships between the university and the people of Burlington,” Lobdell said. Late-night bus service has been available since the fall of 2002. According to Lobdell, overcrowding has always been an issue. Decarreau says behavior problems began to arise in the 2005-2006 academic year, and have escalated ever since.