An alternative route

Story by Bridget Cooke, Staff Writer

Students at UW-Eau Claire usually had to go to the transit center in downtown in order to get a bus ride to another city, but now an arrangement between Jefferson Lines and the university will allow for any campus residents to catch a ride daily right outside of Towers Hall.

Freshman Marcus Bogumill lives in Sutherland Hall. He said that he thinks that the opportunity of transport to and from St. Paul and Minneapolis is great for students to utilize.

“I think they’re a great idea,” he said. “I think a lot of people will be able to go home more often. Maybe visit some family and friends.”

The non-contractual agreement between Jefferson and Eau Claire is one that allows for the bus lines to stop for pick up and drop off daily, making it easier on students who need transportation that was only before available at a less-convenient location.

Barbara Schmidt, Coordinator of the Parking and Transportation department on campus said that the arrangement began with Jefferson Lines reaching out to the university, speaking with Dean of Student Affairs Beth Hellwig, who then passed on the responsibility of planning onto herself and another organizer.

“It offers yet another alternative option to bringing your cars on campus, which I think we definitely need because we are somewhat locked into space here,” Schmidt said. “So what we’re trying to do is offer more and more options for alternatives.”

The buses that stop at Towers will each have a route. One runs from Eau Claire up to Duluth, Minn., and will stop at the smaller towns in between such as Superior, Spooner, Chetek and Bloomer. The other will run horizontally, stopping at the Amtrak station in St. Paul and running all the way down to Milwaukee, stopping along the way.

Director of Marketing and Culture for Jefferson Lines, Kevin Pursey, said the aim of his company is to make connections between less populated areas, but still have bigger city stops just like Greyhound or Amtrak.

“We’re hoping it grows and at some point, maybe we can even add a direct line,” he said.
Freshman Lauren Brunette, who lives in Towers North said she thinks the bus stop right outside her residence hall is a good way for the university to appeal more to students who have a guarantee to travel.

“I had friends last year that went home a lot,” she said. “They always needed rides, so this’ll be a good solid thing if they need a ride home.”

Pursey also addressed Jefferson’s program, known as the College Connection, which is a plan the company has pursued in order to help students get transport wherever they are. He said this stretches as far as Fargo and down to Ames, Iowa and back up to Madison.

“We were looking to grow the college connection program and Eau Claire really made sense to us,” Pursey said.