MSA approves $6,500 for late-bus project

The four-week pilot program will allow MSA to assess whether late-night transportation can be run without University participation.

by Emily Ayshford

The Minnesota Student Association approved its budget in a meeting Tuesday, allocating $6,500 to a late-night bus pilot program approved last month.

The proposed four-week plan, scheduled to be executed in the fall, includes two buses that will run for four hours each night, Friday through Sunday. The route is not finalized, but proposed stops include both the East and West banks and the St. Paul campus.

Matt Humbert, Facilities and Housing Committee chairman, said the buses would hold from 15 to 24 people. He said MSA is currently looking into bus contracts with Lorenz Bus Service.

According to the plan, two trained security monitors would ride the buses in case of emergency and also to protect the students and drivers from unruly passengers.

MSA passed a resolution last year allocating $5,000 to a late-night bus program, but it never materialized.

Humbert said last year’s Facilities and Housing Committee went to University Parking and Transportation Services with the money, but University officials said it was not feasible.

Humbert said he did not believe the committee’s head consulted Parking and Transportation before writing the resolution. The allocated money went back into MSA reserves.

MSA decided to try a pilot program to see if late-night transportation could be run independently of the University, Humbert said.

Bob Baker, Parking and Transportation Services director, said he did not know about the resolution.

“They have a habit of not consulting with us,” he said.

Humbert said he has been talking with Baker about the issue and plans to talk with him about the plan soon.

Humbert said there were concerns that students would use the bus as a “drunk bus.”

He said they would combat this by giving the driver discretion to decide who can get on.

“It can be used if the situation does arise where the designated driver becomes unavailable,” he said.

Humbert said MSA would prefer to partner with Parking and Transportation Services, but they were also looking into different sponsors, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“If the sponsors were there, that would be perfect,” Humbert said. He added that a possible separate student service fee could fund the buses.

The Facility and Housing Services committee has not looked into liability and insurance issues, but Humbert said it will this summer.

He said the committee wanted such a plan because of late-night programming and campus safety.

“It’s about promoting education, about making responsible decisions,” Humbert said.

Emily Ayshford covers student government and welcomes comments at [email protected]