Student Government’s Senate approved an extra $10,000 Tuesday for more buses to shuttle students to and from Raymond James stadium during USF’s remaining home football games.
The additional money means about 650 more students can hitch a ride for each of USF’s home games against the University of Central Florida, Cincinnati and Louisville.
The $9,000 previously allotted by SG for the shuttle service had quickly drained after directors of the service, trying to keep pace with the swelling ranks of students looking for a lift, shelled out about $1,000 to cover the expense of extra Bull Runners for home games against North Carolina and Elon, and then $1,400 more to up the number of buses from seven to 13 for Friday’s game against West Virginia.
“The bottom line is that students asked for this and Student Government gave them what they wanted,” said Athletic Affairs Coordinator Gregory Morgan, who oversees the shuttle service.
Had SG decided against freeing up the extra money, Morgan said that after the West Virginia game, only nine buses could run for the three remaining home games.
Now 45 buses, or 15 per game, can run for those three games, said Morgan, who proposed the $10,000 boost in funds at the meeting Tuesday.
Before the final three games of last year, the number of buses never needed to be bumped up, said Morgan.
But as support for USF football has crescendoed, students have flocked to the buses in record numbers.
“These people show up in herds,” said Morgan.
The seven buses provided for USF’s home opener against Elon weren’t enough to prevent packs of students from being stranded when the buses quickly filled.
For the North Carolina game, 10 buses were brought in.
Morgan’s $10,000 request was passed unanimously in the Senate, leaving senator Marshay Brown to question whether due consideration had been given to cheaper ways of making sure students could get to the game.
“Ten thousand dollars is a big number,” she said. “I would have liked to have seen other notions considered. I can understand students needed it, but let’s think outside the box.”
Some senators suggested incentives, such as free parking for drivers who came with a carload full of people.
Getting existing buses to make more than one trip to and from the stadium was also offered as a potential solution.
But neither would help much now, Morgan said. Arranging an incentive program would require working something out with USF Athletics and officials at Raymond James, he said.
Paying for more trips rather than more buses also creates problems. Though it could work for trips to the stadium, afterward students would be left waiting for hours as the first load of buses battled the post-game traffic gridlock.
“I don’t think we need any new spins on the system right now,” Morgan said. “It works fine, minus the fact that we don’t have enough buses for students.”
Aaron Stewart, a sophomore in psychology, said the extra buses made him more confident he could get a bus seat for Friday’s game.
“Before I thought there was a chance I would miss the bus or leave me,” he said. “It’s lousy to get stuck on campus when you’re depending on a ride to the game.”
David Guidi can be reached at (813) 974-1888 or email@example.com. Reporting from Ashley Davidson contributed to this report.