Apr 292008
Authors: Kate Bennis

Voicing concerns of drunken drivers leaving Old Town bars, four CSU students are pushing new routes for the Transfort, the city’s day-time bus system, to provide safe rides from the popular area.

As part of a class assignment, the four students hope to establish bus hours on the weekends between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. – peak hours for bar patrons.

Social work majors Kayla Crowder, Casey Rangel, Kelly Jo Sokol and Marissa Roldan wanted to improve the bus system when they heard that nearly 50 percent of CSU students surveyed had drunkenly driven home from Old Town.

“One of the main issues, especially with students, was that transportation is great but the options don’t accommodate everyone,” Crowder said. “We could all relate to that.”

While CSU offers RamRide, a free ride service for CSU students, and taxi and shuttle services are available, an operating bus could help reduce drunken driving accidents, Crowder said.

The plan would also relieve traffic congestion in Old Town, the students said.

“This idea helps to address a lot of other major concerns with one solution,” she said.

Crowder said the early design of the route would include one stop in Old Town, preferably near the square, and then include one stop on each side of campus. Crowder added that the route could be extended as time went on.

A recent survey was given to 169 students and found that nearly 50 percent of those surveyed had driven home drunk from Old Town at least once, Crowder said.

Seventy percent said that they would utilize a public bus on the weekends if one were available.

More than 200 signatures have been collected in support of the idea, Rangel said.

“Being a college town, we all know that kids are going to go out and drink. But it’s important that they make smart choices, and it’s important that there are other ways to get home,” Crowder said.

Both Transfort and the Colorado chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving are in favor of the idea, Rangel said.

“Transfort’s field coordinator was very willing to listen to our ideas,” she said. “The only thing that’s stopping it now is the funding.”

Rangel estimates that the total cost to run a bus on Friday and Saturday nights is $12,000 per weekend.

In the past, the Associated Students of CSU has funded week-long after-hours transportation options but was forced to discontinue services due to financial reasons.

“We think it’s financially more feasible to find funding for two nights than seven days,” she said.

More than 10 students have agreed to be partners in assisting the girls’ efforts, and others said they would use the service.

“I’m sure it would help out,” said Jake Barker, a mechanical engineering graduate. “If it went to different sectors around town, I would use it on the weekends, and I would probably pay for it.”

The students hope to have a bus service running by the fall semester. Rangel encourages students who support the bus service to voice their opinion to ASCSU, which may be able to fund the project with renegotiation.

“If enough people express their passion or need for this, then there is a huge chance that it will happen,” she said.

Staff writer Kate Bennis can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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