The Tiger East End Express (TE3) may gain a stop on Park Ave., lose two stops on campus, run for an additional period in the afternoon and cost money to ride.
Those possibilities for next year were discussed at a Student Government senate meeting Friday in an informal session led by Phil Amsler, SG vice president.
The current route, which began as a trial in early January, has seen an explosive surge in use, sometimes requiring three articulated buses running at the same time to carry the hundreds of students heading to Rochester’s East End.
The bus begins by looping around campus at 9 p.m. Saturday, then ferries students to a single stop on Pitkin St. and East Ave. until 2 a.m.
But the 9 p.m. trip serves relatively few riders, so Amsler proposed ending service at that hour and starting at 10 p.m. Senate seemed to agree, or at least didn’t object.
Some students (about 78% of the slightly more than 100 students responding to a survey SG distributed online) want the bus to also run in the afternoon.
Senate considered several options, before voting to support a noon to 6 p.m. service. That service could provide access to more cultural destinations. Amsler, in particular, was excited about taking the bus to the National Museum of Play.
The new hours could prove costly, with a price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars. And students may have to shoulder that burden directly.
“I’m going to be honest with all of you,” said Greg Pollock, SG president. “I do not know if this is going to stay free.”
The school agreed to pay for the trial this year, he said, but may not be so forthcoming next year. A trip might cost a dollar or more, depending on what funding SG can find.
Senate also discussed possible route changes. Amsler supported cutting one of three stops between University Commons and Riverknoll as well as the stop at Barnes & Noble, which is close to another Park Point stop.
If the stops are cut, then the bus will still run past those points, but will not stop. Amsler hopes that will shave a few minutes from the current 15-minute tour of campus.
On the subject of adding stops, Tristan Wright, president of OUTspoken, voiced support for stopping near the GLBT-friendly Equal Grounds coffee shop in the South Wedge. Another possible stop was near the Memorial Art Gallery. But a proposed stop on Park Ave. seemed to carry the most support.
The final plan, when it emerges, may be another six-month trial during fall and winter quarters, so that SG can gauge how students actually use the bus. The route might receive more tweaks then.