Slippery Rock University’s shuttle service, the Happy Bus, is easily recognized as the buses drive across campus and to various locations in the Slippery Rock area. However, the service has gone through some changes this academic year with some doubling in service and other routes being cut entirely.
The service is managed and run by the Student Government Association (SGA). The frequencies of the route stops present for the buses were temporarily doubled due the two-hour delays Tuesday and Wednesday. This meant that on-campus stops were visited ever 10 minutes and off-campus stops were visited every 15 minutes.
“That was an emergency decision and Dr. Watson facilitated the discussion between the University and us,” Anthony Plumberg, Vice President of Campus Outreach for the Student Government Association said, “It was [a decision] made by the group that decided to shorten classes and the cost was covered by the University.”
Dr. Robert Watson, Vice President for Student Affairs said Monday during the Student Government Association meeting that the group consisted of himself, the president, and other members of her administration. He also commented that SGA had significant influence in the discussion of whether or to have regular classes. SGA President Buddy Clements and other members of SGA approached Watson Monday encouraging him to consider the weather and its impact on students.
“I feel like our advocating did create the compromise for the two hour delay,” Plumberg said, “I had at least 30 people come up to me independently and say ‘You’re on student government. Do something about this.’ We’ve had well over 100 people express their concern over the weather.”
In contrast to this additional service of the Happy Bus, last semester SGA decided to temporarily discontinue the evening route after discussion within the campus outreach committee which is responsible for the daily activities of the Happy Bus, the movie series, and advertising for SGA activities and events.
“There was a lack of a demand. It had been declining by almost 50 percent over the past two years,” Plumberg explained, “Obviously it’s very hard to service everyone in every way shape and form, but we are always looking for ways to improve how the route is going, how easy the schedule is to read, obviously we’ve had some trouble with the evening route.”
In addition to ridership decreasing, the increase in gas prices did not help save the evening route. “With gas prices rising, to which the cost of the Happy Bus is connected, it would have cost over $30,000 to maintain the evening route. We decided that it was not a wise use of money for about 30 people to use the bus for the evening route,” Plumberg said.
For students that do seek that later grocery trip to Giant Eagle, or a ride back to their apartments after evening classes, there is hope for the evening route to return.
“Our mandate this semester is to not only figure out how we can bring the evening route back and not waste money, but use it in a wise manner but also inform people about the service and how to use the service. I want every student that can use this service to use this service,” Plumberg said.