Students now have a cheap and safe way to go to college night in Ybor City. A $4 shuttle will leave from between the Phyllis P. Marshall Center and the Crescent Hill Parking Garage at 11 p.m. and midnight. It returns from Ybor promptly at 2 and 3 a.m.
Andrew Aubery, student body vice president, said he has driven the shuttle program around several obstacles while trying to keep a campaign promise from last year.
“A lot of people said that as vice-president you can’t really get anything done,” said Aubery. “We wanted students to believe in us.”
Since November 2004, the SG has been “jumping through many hoops and crawling through many holes to get the program underway,” said Aubery.
The program began last year, but was shut down by the General Council, the university’s law offices, which didn’t want to use the Bull Runner shuttles or SG funds for it.
Aubery then found an off-campus sponsor, Pepin Distributing Company, which serves Budweiser throughout Hillsborough County. Pepin now partially subsidizes the program, which was originally going to be free.
More than a dozen students waited for as long as an hour on Jan. 13 for the free bus, which never arrived. A toppled sign which read, “Bus cancelled due to complications,” lay only a few yards from the waiting students. After discovering it, USF student Sina Leciejewski remarked, “To say the least, we’re very disappointed.”
Martz First Class Coach, the bus carrier which handles USF sporting events, had given Aubery what he said was “the run around.” Aubery said Martz told him that it over-booked its drivers. Brian Wenzel, Martz’s charter manager, said that there were communications problems. Aubery did not set up a solid schedule early enough, said Wenzel. He said that February is one of the company’s busiest months, and the buses were sold out for Thursday nights.
No bus ran on Jan. 20.
SG has now finalized arrangements with Jamie’s Party Bus, who will be the new carrier. Each bus is outfitted with couches and extra personnel. Unlike the former carrier, Jamie’s is ready to run multiple shuttles on the program’s reopening, depending on turnout. Up to 130 students can be accommodated.
Aubery said he would like to remind students that there is more to Ybor than clubs and bars, but if students do go down to party they must be respectful and safe on the bus.
“Students can have a good time,” said Aubery. “But we’re all adults and need to act like it.”