Bull Runner adds new off-campus route

Students and faculty wanting to go south of the USF Tampa campus now have a free transportation option.

On Aug. 1, the Bull Runner, which is free for students, began operating a new off-campus route – Route F – which services areas on McKinley Drive, East Serena Drive, and North 50th Street.

According to PATS Transportation Manager Rick Fallin, Route F starts at the Administration building and ends at the Marshall Student Center (MSC). When it reaches the MSC, the bus turns around and retraces its route back to the Administration building. This route can also now be viewed on the Bull Tracker website.

It will also feature a stop on the corner of McKinley and East Serena Drive – walking distance away Busch Gardens and Adventure Island.

Manuel Lopez, Director of Parking and Transportation Services (PATS), said the route was made possible by funds from the City of Tampa.

“Every once in a while, the city gets funding called Concurrency Funds that are used to mitigate traffic around the area,” he said. “The funds are to be used to allow for less traffic on the road. This year we received almost $2.3 million of funding to be used over a five-year period.”

Lopez said Student Government members were asked for a recommendation on where to place a new route. The most popular suggestion became Route F.

Fallin said they then looked at population densities around the area to see which areas could benefit from the addition of the bus route.

“We determined that the southern area was considered to be the densest area of student population.” Fallin said. “I expect this route to be somewhere in the 200,000 to 300,000 range in ridership this (school) year.”

Lopez said he sat on a team comprised of employees in the USF Office of Government Relations and the head of Facilities Planning and Construction. They worked with planning commission member Gloria Moreda and the City of Tampa to create a proposal for the new route.

He said once the proposal was made, it was presented and approved by the Planning Commission, which is made up of members who worked on the proposal. The final proposal was agreed upon in July 2010.

Lopez said the Concurrency Fund also allowed the University to purchase new buses to run this route and let PATS fund new driver positions.

“Sixty percent of our drivers are students,” Lopez said. “So, overall this route is good for the passengers and good for the students, as we were able to hire more student drivers.”

Fallin said he rode on the first bus running the route Aug.1 to make sure it went smoothly.

“We picked up our first rider at a little after 7 in the morning,” he said. “His comment was ‘I’ve been waiting for this route.'”

Katie Newcomb, a junior majoring in statistics, said she was excited the new route was created.

“I purchase a Busch Gardens fun card every year and this bus will save me from paying parking fees every time I go.” Newcomb said.

Udienza Olivo, a junior majoring in accounting, said she will take advantage of the route when going to Busch Gardens or when visiting friends south of campus.

“I wasn’t aware they had added this route,” she said. “I think it’s a great idea.” Olivo said. “I would much rather ride this route than drive.”

The hours of operation are Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to midnight, Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.