Late night bus given red light
The wheels on the bus go round and round – but not late weekend nights this semester as originally planned.
Disagreements in mediation in late December caused a bump in the road between the City of Eau Claire and union workers of the bus service, said Gwen Van Den Heuvel, transit manager for the city of Eau Claire.
“We had to say, ‘we’re sorry, we can’t do late night bus service,’ ” she said.
A large majority of the 38 member union suppors the idea of a late night bus route, Student Senate President Adrian Klenz said.
Sarah Harvieux, who serves with Klenz on the university’s Alcohol Education Committee, said she believes the dissenting portion of the union is using the matter for leverage in negotiations on their annual contracts.
The matter now will go to arbitration, in which the state provides a mediator, Klenz said. The two sides make proposals and the state decides the final action.
Details from the last attempt at a late-night bus route have been in arbitration since 1997, he said. Klenz provided no firm estimate as to when the matter would be resolved.
“It could take years or it could take a few months,” Klenz said. “It just depends on how the arbitration process goes.”
The route, which was estimated to cost $13,900, was funded by M&L Brands Inc. and Park Ridge Distributing Inc. – both alcohol distributors that each gave about $5,000 – and a one-time payment of $3,900 by Senate.
Dave Boisvert, a general manager at M&L, said the company has not decided how long the funding will remain in place. The money came from a grant by the Miller Brewing Company’s alcohol awareness program.
“It gets us a little closer to the university atmosphere,” he said. “Maybe we have to readdress (the issue) or spearhead another package, but I hope the efforts we put in aren’t for naught.”
Klenz put forth a more blunt message.
“I always would hope that city officials and union folks would look out for the interest of the students,” he said. “Students have made it clear they want this.”
Even if the route does not go through as planned, Boisvert hopes M&L could still help.
“I hope we can still be part of a committee with Sarah (Harvieux) and other members of the school to help out in different ways,” he said, adding responsible alcohol use is crucial.
Harvieux holds hopes for the future of the route.
“I think all of the pieces are there for this to happen in the future,” she said.
The effort has made a number of good connections between the city and university, she said,along with many others
“People are pretty disappointed it didn’t happen. The bus service may happen sometime in the future. We’re just not sure when.”