ASUO plans to bring back after-midnight bus services

Every year, the University of Oregon’s Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee purchases student bus passes for the 79x route from the Lane Transit District. In 2009, LTD went under a financial shortage and cut many routes used by students. But last year, ACFC was the one with the ax.

The 79x route serves over 1,000 students a day in at least five apartment complexes, LTD spokesman Andy Vobora said. The bus runs from 7 a.m. Monday to midnight Friday, and from 7 p.m. until midnight on Saturday. Last year, 79x ran until 2:30 a.m on Monday through Saturday.

In recent years, Vobora said 79x faced a 35 percent drop in ridership.

“After [13th and Olive] moved to Eugene, we have seen students migrate closer to campus,” Vobora said.

With only six to 10 students per trip after 6 p.m., ACFC decided to cut the route short.

“After midnight, the operation costs rise a lot,” ACFC Chair Andrew Dunn said. “[LTD] has to hire security, and it’s hard to staff the night routes.”

UO student Jianting Li has relied on the 79x route to get to school since he moved to an apartment located near Autzen Stadium last year.

“It doesn’t affect me so much, because I rarely go out after midnight,” Li said. “But I can see it’s a problem for my roommate. She likes to study in the library until very late, but now she can’t.”

UO student Shinjiro Takemura, a resident in Stadium Park, said he felt upset about the changes. Takemura rides a bike to school every day, but he doesn’t feel safe riding home after consuming alcohol.

“[The bus] was a perfect option for me and a lot of students who want to go out on weekends,” Takemura said.

This year, LTD proposed a cost decrease due to the drop in enrollment at UO. ACFC instead suggested a 2 percent increase in its benchmarks, proposing that the extra money could bring back the service.

Dunn said LTD had listened to the student government’s wishes last year by increasing EMX frequency and extending the route after midnight.

Dunn said one of the proposals is to run 79x route until 2:30 a.m. only on Saturday. But Vobora said it would be challenging for LTD.

“Unless they want to bring back buses the whole week, it’s very unlikely,” Vobora said. “We cannot hire drivers for only a one-night shift.”

ACFC and LTD will finalize 2016-17 contracts by March 2016.

Dunn suggested that students utilize DDS and Saferide, both of which are ASUO-funded ride services for students.

DDS provides services to about 30 to 40 students on weekdays and up to 100 students on weekends. The usual wait for a ride is around 20 minutes.

“Always plan ahead,” DDS Communication Outreach Miles Sisk said.

But it’s not easy to get a DDS ride when the end of the term is approaching, UO student Yunshu Huang said, as many students stay late on campus to study for finals.

“I had to wait for an hour to get a ride last Thursday night,” Huang said. “Maybe I will take my car to campus if I stay late next time.”

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Tran Nguyen

Tran Nguyen