City approves trial late-night bus
The Eau Claire City Council unanimously gave the green light Tuesday to a trial late-night bus route that will run from Jan. 30 to March 20.
The route will be free for students and run weekend nights until 3 a.m.
“I’m hoping students use it,” Student Senate President Adrian Klenz said Wednesday. “Students are going to determine if it works.”
Junior Sandra Boone, a member of the Late Night Bus Service Work Group that submitted a proposal to the City Council, said the route would give students transportation to Oakwood Mall, 4800 Golf Road, on Friday and Saturday nights. Water Street and other downtown areas also will be on the route.
“One of the real benefits of this service is the express service (to) Oakwood Mall,” said Sarah Harvieux, chair of the Alcohol Education Committee and staff coordinator of the Work Group.
The new route would halve the transit time to the mall, which is about an hour, she said.
“Our goal is making (the route) as user-friendly as possible,” Harvieux said. “Students are the main voice in taking this route.”
The path of the route will be finalized today.
Students already have expressed their opinions about the route, a city official said.
Eau Claire Transit Manager Gwen Van Den Heuvel said more than 700 students signed a petition for the route.
She said the current plan for the route modified a plan submitted about two years ago. Students could not secure outside funding at that time, and although city officials approved the plan, it did not materialize due to the lack of funds.
The biggest concern two years ago was the state budget eliminating transportation services, said senior Kevin Funk, an adviser for the Work Group.
“I think we’re pretty certain that existing transportation services aren’t going to be cut, where we weren’t sure before,” he said.
The eight-week trial, which will begin the first weekend of next semester, will cost $13,900.
Park Ridge and M&L, two local alcohol distributors, pledged $10,000 for the trial route. Klenz said Senate made a special one-time allocation of $3,900 to complete the funding.
This time around, Van Den Heuvel said, the group was more organized and “put a lot of effort into securing outside funding.”
If the service were to continue, Klenz said students would eventually have to financially contribute to the route.
Of the segregated fees full-time students pay, $19 goes toward the bus service, according to a proposal submitted to the City Council.
The cost for a permanent late-night route would run about $102,000 for the 2004-05 school year, Van Den Heuvel said.
Senate created a bus ridership coordinator position on Oct. 27. Klenz said the role will include the new dealings of the late-night route, along with the issues in students’ daily commutes. The position is vacant, however. Applications can be picked up and returned to Room 132 of Davies Center.
Harvieux said local businesses will benefit from the route.
Places and businesses such as Oakwood Mall, Borders Books, 4030 Commonwealth Ave., Acoustic Caf, 505 S. Barstow St., the downtown area and restaurants should see a tremendous change, she said.
With the last obstacle overcome, the Work Group and its supporters seem confident.
“I think we’ve got most of the angles covered,” Van Den Heuvel said.
Funk went a step further, saying, “I’d be willing to bet my tuition on it. It’s going to be a great way for students to get around campus and around the city of Eau Claire.”