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Full buses strand student fans

When Anne Mockensturm and her friends arrived at 5 p.m. to catch the free bus service to Saturday’s USF football game, they thought they’d have no problem getting there on time. Nearly three hours and a HART bus ride later, they arrived at the game at the conclusion of the first quarter.

They are among many who came too late to use the free transportation arranged with Student Government funds. All seven buses were filled and on their way to the stadium by 5 p.m. Greg Morgan, Athletic Coordinator for SG, was unsure how many students were left behind.

SG advertised that the Bull Runner

shuttles would drive students to the game starting at 4:15 p.m. The buses were scheduled to arrive at the designated location together, and would leave as each filled.

Alex Cantrell, who was with Mockensturm, said he arrived at the lot only to find a crowd of students waiting. After nearly 40 minutes, he learned indirectly that the buses were full and wouldn’t return. He said no representatives of SG told the students the buses would not be coming back.

“I was like, ‘All right, great, how do we get to the game?'” he said. “I wish we’d been told by someone. It seemed disorganized to me.”

Mockensturm, a freshman studying elementary education and English, said she and her friends had heard the buses would run continuously.

According to Morgan, the buses were not officially advertised to return cyclically to pick up more students. The seven buses were to take as many students as they could hold and bring back those same students after the game was finished.

Morgan estimates Bull Runner shuttles can transport a maximum of 40 people. That means roughly 280 people took advantage of the free transportation on Saturday.

SG must pay $200 for each full bus that travels to a home football game. Even if the bus remains empty and is not used, SG pays $90 for the reservation. Only $9,000 was budgeted to fund free transportation, Morgan said.

“If the students want more buses, we want to give it to them,” Morgan said.

Morgan expressed surprise at the speed with which the buses filled and departed. Last year, SG could hardly fill six buses on a consistent basis, he said.

“Because of all the hype and increased involvement of students, it was hard to tell how many buses we would need (this season),” Morgan said.

Cantrell, a freshman engineering major, said he owns a car but preferred to use the free shuttle service. He explained the cost of gas and parking made the bus option attractive, and that he’s from Melbourne and unfamiliar with Tampa.

“I was afraid I’d get lost,” he said.

Despite their difficulties, both Cantrell and Mockensturm said they would try to ride the bus in the future. They would just arrive earlier, they said

Dan Catlin can be reached at (813) 974 – 6299 or oraclecatlin