UB allows general public to ride Stampede buses for Bernie Sanders rally, some students unhappy

Transportation Services says opening buses to public alleviates parking on campus for events


In effort to alleviate traffic and parking for Bernie Sanders’ rally on campus, UB opened its Stampede buses to the general public Monday. Some students, who a pay a $211.25 transportation fee for the buses, feel UB was putting the community before its students by allowing the general public to ride the Stampede as well.

“We pay quite a bit for our tuition and I’m not sure why [UB Parking and Transportation Services] would extend that offer to everyone,” said Kathryn Doherty, a freshman biochemistry major. “The whole situation was UB being lazy. They didn’t want the parking lots being overcrowded so they let anyone board the bus, and it could have been anyone off the streets.”

Parking and Transportation Services announced in an email a few days before the rally that Stampede buses would not require students to show their UB ID to ride the bus so members of the general public could take the bus onto campus as well and “minimize traffic and parking impact” for Sanders’ rally at Alumni Arena.

Christopher Austin, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services, said the department’s “philosophy” is that the more people on buses or shuttles, the less parking spaces being taken up.

Austin said the Stampede is open to the public for other events on campus, such as football and basketball games, Accepted Students Day, and Fall and Spring Fest. During these events, passengers are required to show their ticket.

Parking and Transportation Services also added five shuttles and three buses to the Stampede route between North and South Campus on Monday and Austin said they saw a “mild increase” of passengers with an estimated of 200 to 250 more passengers than usual.

Approximately 11,000 people came out for Sanders’ rally.

Emily Grant, a freshman aerospace engineering major, said members of the general public attending the rally should not have taken away seats from students riding the bus in order to go to class. Doherty also said she is at an “inconvenience” living on South Campus. She didn’t take the Stampede to class Monday night to avoid the overcrowded buses and said it wouldn’t have been fair if she didn’t have a seat because someone who wasn’t a student took it.

Grant and Doherty said community members should have had to pay a fee to ride the bus because all UB students pay a transportation fee.

Austin said Parking and Transportation Services is not capable of directly charging people who board the Stampede.

Lilia Jerbi, a freshman political science major who took the bus to get to the rally, said she didn’t see a problem with nonstudents taking the bus and that it’s nice for the university to share facilities with the community for big events.

“It just shows how good the school is,” Jerbi said.

She also said Stampede drivers rarely check student IDs normally, so opening the buses to the public for Sanders’ rally and other events do not make much of a difference anyway.

Doherty said Stampedes not checking IDs for the rally put students at “more of a risk” because there was no way to monitor who was boarding the buses.

Austin and Kisker, senior staff assistant of Parking and Transportation Services, said they both received positive feedback from members of the community about the busing.

Ali Oster and Cait Albano, first-year graduate students at Canisius College, took the Stampede to and from the rally. Oster said she thought the busing was “very convenient,” and that she and Albano were able to get on the Stampede within two minutes.

Most parking lots reached capacity for Sanders’ rally Monday, although the Center for Tomorrow lot, which was open for overflow parking, did not reach its capacity with about 50 spaces left open, Austin said. Every parking lot south of the academic spine was full.

Kisker said someone who was parking for “Serial” producer Sarah Koenig’s talk at the Center for the Arts was “pleasantly surprised” she was able to find parking.

Austin said they didn’t know how many people they were expecting because the event was brought “quickly together.” He said it was successful in his eyes.

“Given a lot of unknowns, this certainly was a successful day and evening from the transportation standpoint,” Austin said. “In supporting such an event we certainly feel the efforts we put in and the alternatives we provided helped to get to people to their destinations in a timely matter.”

Hannah Stein is the assistant news editor and can be reached at hannah.stein@ubspectrum.com