Groups seek more circulator hours

MSA partnered with the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council to try to extend the circulator’s hours.

by Amber Kispert

Dustin Norman, president of the Interfraternity Council, has been one of those unfortunate students who runs out of class just in time to watch the Washington Avenue Bridge Circulator leave.

Norman and these other students are out of luck because another bus will not be along – the last bus leaves at 4:45 p.m.

The IFC has partnered with the Panhellenic Council and the Minnesota Student Association to expand the hours of operation for the circulator.

MSA passed a resolution Tuesday supporting lengthening the hours of operation from 4:45 p.m. to 10:15 p.m., but would maintain the starting time of 7:30 a.m.

The Washington Avenue Bridge Circulator runs only on weekdays, primarily between the West Bank and Dinkytown areas, via the Washington Avenue Bridge and the 10th Avenue bridge.

Tracy Hoffmann, president of the PHC, first suggested this project to Norman and MSA president Emma Olson at a meeting earlier this semester.

The PHC has already approved this project.

Lengthening the hours will be ideal for students who have night classes that go past 4:45 p.m., Hoffmann said.

“Your choices are either Washington Avenue Bridge or 10th Avenue bridge, which is a very cold, long walk,” she said. “Walking by yourself at night is not ideal for students.”

Norman and Olson agree that lengthening the hours is something needed to ensure student safety.

“I think the University is aware that students’ safety is a concern, but the problem is how you can really go about it,” Olson said.

In order to pass, the proposal must first go before Parking and Transportation Services to see if it’s a feasible option for the University.

Currently, the Washington Avenue Bridge Circulator is budgeted $218,300 for the 2007-2008 year. If the hours were to be lengthened, an additional $85,250 per academic year would be added.

Mary Sienko, marketing manager for Parking and Transportation Services, said lengthening the hours isn’t as easy as these groups may think.

“We would either have to cut some other service or increase fees,” she said, “neither of which would be a popular or a welcome option.”

Groups are willing to work with Parking and Transportation Services to help make this happen, Hoffmann said.

“It’s not like we’re just demanding this and not willing to compromise and not willing to put forth any effort,” she said.

Currently the Washington Avenue Bridge Circulator has an average ridership of 2,200 daily.

If the hours were lengthened, there is potential that more students will use it, Olson said.

“Even if only one more student uses it, it’s worth it,” she said.

This proposal will go before the IFC today in hopes that its members will approve it, Hoffmann said.

Norman said he is also thinking about approaching residence halls about getting involved to show this isn’t something that only greeks are concerned with.

“We understand that we are students first and greeks second,” he said.

The next plan of action once the proposal has the MSA, IFC and PHC support is to meet with PTS to discuss possible options.

“This is a step forward,” Norman said. “The University will see that we are trying to take things into our own hands.”