Letter to the editor: On the elimination of the UB late night weekend bus service

Eliminating late night weekend busing was a decision the university made without any student input.

The same day the story broke, I met with Interim Director of Parking and Transportation Christopher Austin and learned that contrary to what was reported in the news, the changes to the bus schedule mean that after 1:30 AM on Friday and Saturday nights, there will be no official UB transportation between campuses.

As University Council Student Representative for all 30,000 students at UB, I’m committed to ensuring safety for students at all times. As a long-time volunteer at the University Heights Tool Library, I also want to improve community relations and quality of life. This decision to cut busing will improve neither.

As was evident during the last year’s opening weekend, students must be respectful of the neighborhood or face the consequences. The misconduct of some students should be curbed through proactive law enforcement, but punishing the larger student body for their actions is not the right solution.

While there is no excuse for underage drinking, disruptive parties, or disrespectful behavior, cutting bus service will not put an end to parties in University Heights. It will only take away an option for students to return home safely. Regardless that Lyft and Uber are now available, it is unacceptable to have no official UB transportation when we already pay a transportation fee of $232.50 each semester.

While the Yellow Line from Flint Loop to Main Circle will continue 24-hour service Sunday through Thursday, there are many students who shared with me how they will still be impacted. Architecture students often work on their studio projects late into the night on South Campus. Student drivers of the SBI Safety Shuttles can end their shifts as late as 4:00 AM. Campus Dining & Shops often have shifts running that late as well and after UB’s decision last year to reduce late night buses from 6 per hour to 3, many student workers have struggled to catch rides. Furthermore, it makes little sense to have the 24/7 library in Capen without 24/7 transportation for students wanting to use it.

Beyond just party-goers, the decision effectively creates a curfew for residents of both North and South to be back on their campuses before UB leaves them out in the cold. Lest we forget last year’s armed robberies and stabbing, UB needs to provide students more safety, not less transportation.

Speaking with a reporter from The Buffalo News this past Friday, I shared how many students already feel unsafe in University Heights and that this makes things worse. As we walked along Winspear Avenue, I highlighted issues like poor lighting and overgrown hedges. Just last month, University Police Deputy Chief Joshua Sticht and I discussed ways to improve safety around South Campus and following the suggestion of fellow past orientation leader Lisa Cannavale ‘18, I’ve been pursuing plans to improve lighting and cameras as well as install a new Blue Light Emergency Phone near the UB sign at the intersection of Winspear and Winridge.

This decision was a failure of open communication and shared governance to include student input on issues that affect us. I urge UB administration to recognize that the best solution will come as a result of collaboration between students, the university, and members of the community to ensure that all stakeholders have a voice at the table. I’m glad that Christopher Austin from Parking and Transportation is open to continued discussion on this and I look forward to a follow-up meeting with him before the start of the school year.

As your Student Representative, I will not be silent in making your voices heard as I continue to meet with administration. For discussion and updates, join the “Save the Bus” Facebook group and if you have questions you want answered or concerns you’d like to share, please feel free to reach out on social media or at mpbrown@buffalo.edu!

--Mike Brown, University Council Student Representative