SG pushes for longer bus hours, shuttle service

Heightened concerns over campus safety have led Student Government to pass a resolution for late-night transportation services last week.

Resolution AR 4 aims to extend bus hours for certain routes until 2:30 a.m., in addition to adding a door-to-door shuttle service. Dylan Adkins, Andrew Parks and Connor Madden co-authored the legislation after biology sophomore Taylor Ard started a online petition that received hundreds of signatures.

Ard said after dance freshman Haruka Weiser’s death, she feared for her roommate’s safety as her roommate left science labs that ended at 10 p.m.

“I was waiting for my roommate to be able to walk with her home, and I thought ‘this is ridiculous,’” Ard said. “We shouldn’t have to wait for our roommates to get out of lab because there’s no [late-night] transportation.”

Similar late-night transportation services to the ones proposed in the resolution are currently at universities such as the University of Alabama, University of North Carolina and University of California-Berkeley and are free to students.

Parks, who is a law student, said as an undergraduate at the University of Alabama, he had access to a free van service when campus buses were not running.

“Personally, it was surprising to me that there wasn’t a late-night service at UT,” Parks said.

Carol Alfano, safety program administrator of the UC-Berkeley police department, said the school’s various night safety programs are funded through its police department and parking and transportation department. 

At UC-Berkeley, the late-night walk program pays student employees about $12.50 an hour and runs 7 days a week from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., which Alfano said costs about $150,000 a year. UC-Berkeley also pays for a late-night shuttle service through its transportation department, but the cost was unavailable.

“Tell [the University] to take 5 percent off the next home game ticket sale, and they can probably afford to run this program,” Alfano said.

UT’s SURE Walk, which provides walks accompanied by unpaid volunteers from campus to the West and North Campus areas, saw a 400 percent increase in users following Weiser’s death. The University said it plans to provide resources to the previously inconsistent student-run program.

The campus shuttle service at UT runs from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and recieves about $6 million a year in funding, according to financial documents from the Student Services Budget Committee, which oversees allocations for the service. 

Blanca Gamez, assistant director of transportation and administrative services, said UT previously had a late-night shuttle service, but it was not used frequently.

“Often times, we were carrying one or two students,” Gamez said. “So, as the operating expenses continue to increase, and the SSBC remains firm on the amount of money they give us each year, the shuttle service gets cut.”

However, Gamez said PTS is working with Student Government to implement the program by the fall semester, which would require additional funding outside of the SSBC allocation. Gamez said she could not give an estimate as to how much funding the program would need.

Adkins, business sophomore and co-author of the resolution, said students deserve to see their tuition dollars used to ensure safety on campus.

“Instead of studying, we are fearing about how late we should stay and go to home,” Adkins said. “The 40 Acres is our home, and it’s a place where we should be able to walk and feel free, safe and be able to walk all the time.”