Drunk Bus at Bloomsburg University Faces Rumors

Bloomsburg University students have been provided the service of a late night shuttle that transports students to several destination points on both upper campus, and down town.  The shuttle however carries a bad reputation when it comes to cops pulling it over.  Getting to the bottom of these rumors was essential to the safety of the students.

Here in Bloomsburg, there is a great way to ensure that you get home to safely without having to risk life and limb by getting into a car, or getting an underage on the streets.  Since the 2002-2003 academic year, CGA has been providing the late night shuttle that has been dubbed the “Drunk Bus” is a great way to get around from upper campus, to down town.

The drunk bus runs Thursday to Saturday from the hours of 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. The drunk bus is a free shuttle to anyone who needs it, and no questions are asked when you get on.

While the drunk bus offers many benefits to students, there is a lot of concern regarding students who do not feel safe while riding it.  In a survey given on Facebook, BU students were asked five different questions as well as given the opportunity to add additional comments that they had in regards to the subject of the late night shuttle.  The questions were as follows:

-Do you feel safe when taking the drunk bus?

-Do you take the drunk bus often?

-Have you ever been on the drunk bus when a fight broke out?

-If so, how was the situation handled, Have you ever been on the drunk bus, and it was pulled over by the police?

-If so, what was the reason, and what did they do, and What is your age.

When analyzing the results received from the question of, “Do you feel safe when taking the drunk bus?” 19 of the 21 surveyed students said that they did in fact feel safe.  One student even expressed that when there is no one on the bus, and the driver sees a student walking, they stop and ask the student if they need a ride.  This gave that particular student a positive opinion of the bus even though they didn’t use it while drinking.

When asked how often they actually took the bus, 15 of students said they only took it about one night out of the week.  six of those students said two or three times a week, and only one student said more than that.

The third question of whether or not the student had ever been on the bus when a fight broke out was in correlation with question number one, and they both matched each other.  Only one student out of the 21 surveyed said they have been on the bus while a fight broke out.  The student described the situation as, “Terrible. [It] escalated and wasn’t handled at all. He [The policeman] waited for the boys to get off the bus.”  Despite this response, an overwhelming amount of students still felt safe while riding the bus.

The majority of the students who took this survey who were of no surprise, under the age of 21.  This is an important note because of the questions that so many students ask all the time.  Rumors go around and students talk.  “Can the bus get pulled over by the cops?” or “Can they pull the bus over and give me a citation?”  The survey asked students of their personal experiences.

One student of 21 students who responded to this survey said, “I saw it get pulled over because a girl stumbled on. They gave everyone a citation!”

Why would school officials allow this to happen when in fact they allow a safe alternative to traveling when students are in potential danger by driving or traveling by other means under the influence?  This even eliminates the long walk from down town to upper campus or many destinations downtown at night.

In an interview with BU Director of the University Police and Safety and Bonnie Martin, BU communications and media relations manager, both said that it was, in fact, within police jurisdiction to pull the drunk bus over for any reason other than improper driving.  From the position of the University Police position, they can pull the bus over if there is people hanging out of or throwing things out of the window.  Though, they can only respond to calls from the bus driver if they are on-campus, they can pull the bus over if the driver makes that call and expresses that there is an issue.

“We don’t go around just pulling the shuttle over, looking to find people who are intoxicated and underage,” said Tom Phillips, director of health, safety and police at BU.  “It is important to note that unless there is a reason to pull the bus over, the police are not going to do so.”

Phillips also noted that he could not recall a specific instance when they were called to pull over the bus for a fight, or any other reason.  He also noted that he only remembers one time that downtown police responded to a call for the bus, and it was actually at the bus stop, not actually on the bus.

Though there is no real way of surveying how much the late night shuttle, has prevented drunk drivers from getting on the road, or assaults happening to and from campus, both Phillips and Martin agreed that the shuttle is something that both the University and town benefit from greatly.

In speaking to Leo Sokoloski, the Chief of police in downtown Bloomsburg, he too expressed that the bus is receiving many negative rumors.  The bus, he said, is eligible to be pulled over for out of date inspection, or to provide papers of safety.  Though this is true, it has never been done, nor have they ever been called to stop a fight.  Sokolski ended this short interview by saying this, “Town police strongly believe in safety and encourage students to use the buses in lieu of driving – operating a motor vehicle if they have been drinking alcohol.  Safety is our business and preventing problems is our mission.  I have been doing this for 27 years and don’t know of a single case where the bus was pulled over and everyone arrested.”

In a casual conversation with Professor Sharon Santus, Professor of Mass Communications at BU, she agreed that it would not be appropriate if they pulled the bus over to charge students, because that would take the feeling of safety out of the whole concept.

The late night shuttle can be viewed as many things, it could be your back up plan after a wild night, it could be your ride home when it is snowing on the hills of Bloomsburg.  Whatever the reason, the late night shuttle is something that students should not fear.  This safety has been provided to the students, and will continues to be there without the fear of randomly being pulled over by the police to book students for their behavior.