New bus route gives students ride to local bar, among other destinations

UB adds bus stop to complex that includes The U

On February 6, 2014

  • Students now have the option to take the Stampede bus to and from the popular bar and club The U from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Though UB denies any official agreement between the university and the bar, the hours of The U correlate with the hours of the new bus service. Chad Cooper, The Spectrum

For students looking to party at popular bar The U this weekend, UB might be providing them with a designated driver.

The university has implemented a new stop for Stampede buses at the Maple Ridge Center on Maple and Sweet Home Roads. The complex includes an AMC theater, Value City Furniture, OfficeMax, several restaurants and The U. Though some speculate the Stampede's new stop is only to drive students to the bar, UB insists otherwise.

Assistant Director for UB Parking and Transportation Services Chris Austin and UB Spokesperson John Della Contrada said there is no official contract between The U and the university, specifically. Della Contrada said the contract is between University Life and Services and Maple Ridge Center.

Three buses will run the route, operating from 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday to 3 a.m. the following day. The route, which includes stops at the Ellicott Complex, Governors Complex, Goodyear Hall and the main circle, added the new stop to AMC Maple Ridgeat no extra cost.

"We do not have an agreement with The U but do have permission from the developer of the complex to allow our UB Stampede buses to drop off and pick up students," Austin said.

Jimmy Spano, the owner of The U, has expressed his excitement about the deal between UB and the Maple Ridge Center.

"The U is working in conjunction with the UB Stampede on this venture, and will be available for comment in the near future," Spano said.

He declined to comment regarding a specific arrangement between his bar and UB.

Austin said UB chose to add a stop to the center because of its proximity to campus and the various recreational options it offers to students.

Some students think the sole reason for the bus stop isn't for the many restaurant options or the furniture or office supplies stores.

"At the end of the day, students are not going to the movies at 2 a.m.," said Justin Reisman, a junior political science major. "The school is not fooling anyone by not admitting this bus is intended for kids looking to party on the weekend."

In the complex, AMC stops selling tickets before midnight; Subway closes at 10 p.m. on Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; Toni Pepperoni closes at 9 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; Tea Leaf Cafe closes at 11 p.m. Thursday and 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; Taco Bell closes at 2 a.m. Thursday and 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

The U is open until 4 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday, the bar announced on its Facebook page: "We have the buses, we have the new look and now we have 18+ nights all weekend long on Thursday, Friday and Saturday," regarding this week only. Usually on Fridays, patrons must be 21 or older.

The dates and times of the new bus route correlate with the weekend hours of The U.

"I am not out to encourage underage drinking, but it's inevitable and the school might as well provide safe transportation for students who do drink," said Swaroop Reddy, an electrical engineering major.

Austin said the safety of UB students is his No. 1 priority.

"Student safety is always of utmost importance to the university," Austin said. "In regard to this service, just as we have not had safety issues running our Stampede to the Boulevard Mall, Tops and Wegmans supermarkets, or to WalMart twice each week, we do not foresee this service as compromising student safety."

Ian Ryan, a sophomore business major, is conflicted; he's not sure whether the new bus stop is a good thing.

"It's a toss up - it's like, I am catering you to drink, but also preventing drinking and driving," Ryan said. 

Community members have called the Stampede bus the "drunk bus" on weekends, in which it runs from North to South Campus, where many students frequent parties and bars.

On Sept. 30 at a community meeting to discuss problems in the University Heights area surrounding South Campus, Assistant Vice President for Government and Community Relations Michael Pietkiewicz said UB's bus service allows students to go to the library on South Campus, which is open 24 hours a day.

"It is what it is - the 'drunk bus' is honestly the best way to get students to and from North and South Campus safely," Reisman said.



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