Late-night bus a must for U students

Earlier this fall, the Minnesota Student Association ran a two-week pilot “late-night bus” that picked up 5,000 passengers. Similar programs have worked well on many other campuses, including Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan and Purdue University. While significant issues remain, a late-night bus seems to be a no-brainer for the University.

Still, there are concerns, including duplication of the city bus service, lack of benefit for some students and costs.

City bus lines that run through campus include the 2, 3, 6, 16 and 50. The reality is that because the routes are not designed for student use, they can be inconvenient or even useless. If city buses even have night-owl hours, they often run only hourly after midnight. Also, if a student plans a trip between the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood and Stadium Village using Metro Transit’s trip planner, he or she might end up going downtown to transfer before heading back to campus. A better way might exist for some, but it still requires so much walking that many would rather walk the entire distance.

Another criticism of the late-night bus program is that many students will not benefit from it. What this argument forgets is that most student fees help only parts of the student population. The bus program might not benefit all, but it would unquestionably help many.

Finally, while there are cost-benefit issues, these should be considered in how the program will run, not if it should exist at all. The pilot program, paid for by MSA, had a cost of $3 per rider. This will likely go down, as a permanent bus will probably be cheaper and attract more riders as awareness grows.

Furthermore, the benefits are more than convenience. Cost-benefit questions will seem petty if a student were to suffer an assault walking home at 2 a.m. or a health problem because of extremely cold weather.

In conclusion, while MSA needs to run the program economically, we support the concept and hope it comes to fruition soon. We also hope the University administration will provide support wherever necessary.