In an attempt to encourage off-campus exploration, a group of students have collaborated with members of the administration and the Regional Transit Services to improve UR bus routes.
Seniors Neil Pawlowski and Patrick Brennan and juniors Emily Josephson and Pia Weston have incorporated the newly established Rochester Every Day business into the bus schedules with the help of Dean of Students Jody Asbury and Transportation Director Glen Sicard.
“RTS and Facilities people, including [University Architect] Paul Tankel and Glen Sicard from Transportation, helped us develop a web survey for students here and at Eastman,” Asbury said. “Patrick used that and ridership data gathered by transportation last year to refashion the bus routes.
“We met with Neil Pawlowski who had been working on RED, Anne-Marie Algiers and Melissia Schmidt, to fold in program elements including class council trips, Fashionably Late programs and very purposely many of the RED businesses,” she said.
The RED program was developed in order to promote off-campus student enjoyment by registering businesses to offer student discounts to those with small red stickers on their ID card. A list of RED-friendly businesses, details about the Fashionably Late program and the new Late Night Home program through Century Cab can be viewed at http://www.sa.rochester.edu/RED/.
“The goal is to get more students to ride the bus, and to provide more options in terms of getting out into the city,” Brennan explained. “The old routes did not stop at any of the best shopping or dining areas.
“The High Falls bus serves the Blue Cross Arena and Water Street Music Hall, the Public Market is a cheap way to get better produce and support local small farmers and the Mall shuttles are still there like always, but we added Greece Ridge during the week to offer students some variety,” he said.
Most of the RED business are on Monroe, Park and Main Street and can be accessed by the Red Line – the new title for last year’s Bus 72 – and the new Green Line buses students to the surrounding suburbs’ stores and food markets which are slightly more out of reach than downtown shops.
Other new developments include large “R” signs at specific bus stops to highlight the discounted businesses on that street, a color-coordinated bus system and information booklets created by Pawlowski, which highlight the changes and additions to the bus routes.
“The new bus system is a fantastic way for students to actually get out into the amazing city that we live in for free,” Palwoski said.
“The routes have now expanded the shopping possibilities for students and their entertainment options as well. Students can pick up the new ‘Rochester’s Cool City Options’ guide from the newly renovated Wilson Commons Information Center right outside of the Student Activities Office and students can now get their RED stickers for free at the Information center as well.”
“We want to help familiarize students with the city of Rochester through the RED student discount program. Pia and I spent months last year visiting different businesses in the area and we’ve signed up dozens of restaurants, spas, paintball arenas and other businesses downtown and in the surrounding suburbs,” Josephson said. “I’ve learned so much more about the city while working on this project, and I know that, although we don’t have a college town, we have the whole city in front of us. People just need to explore.”
According to Asbury, last year she and several active students, specifically last year’s 2006 class president Michael Guerra, agreed on the necessity for a more varied bus route in order to spark students interest in exploring the city.
“[Guerra] and I met with the Transportation office and the Dean’s Advisory committee several times to figure out how we might do this. I love the kind of collaboration we have seen on this project,” she said. “The city is now becoming a significant player in students’ social lives. I think we have something really special to offer students. You will soon see UR TV running spots on how to use the bus.”
University Architect Paul Tankel, who aided in this and other projects that involve strategic intercampus planning, said that his goal was to create a more user-friendly transportation system.
“This project was not only driven by the desire to have River Campus gain access to the city, but it was also about improving service between the River Campus and the Eastman School of Music. Students should not have to rely on cars,” Tankel explained.
“It seems as though having both the East End and Park Avenue areas more accessible during evening hours is a major plus,” he said. “Rochester certainly can’t compete with the major cities but we have good music, films – from the Little Theatre and George Eastman House, the Memorial Art Gallery and lots of good places to eat.”
Although the majority of reworked bus lines are currently up and running, Brennan emphasized that the student developed routes are still flexible to change depending on the positive or negative responses that they elicit.
“The process of changing these routes is not yet complete,” he said. “We are very concerned about making sure that we get it right and we are still looking for student input. We plan on making some minor changes in December to fix any problems that come up with the current routes but we rely heavily on student feedback to know what is working best, and what might need to be tweaked or changed in the routes.”
Welzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.