Citing safety, Cottages cancels weekend bus
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
Effective Thursday, Sept. 13, The Cottages Connector weekend bus route was permanently canceled. The route previously ran Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. between the University of New Hampshire and The Cottages of Durham development.
Service was ended midway through Friday night’s route and was officially canceled on Monday.
“The decision to end late-night service was made by The Cottages Monday, Sept. 10,” said David Mays, associate vice president of business affairs. “They contracted service with UTS (University Transportation Services) to provide The Cottages Connector, and UTS informed The Cottages that it would no longer provide the late-night service due to safety issues.”
Cain Conner, property manager for The Cottages of Durham, said that the safety of the bus drivers and of the passengers on the bus played a factor in the decision to eliminate the weekend route.
“Although we contracted the bus service to provide transportation to and from The Cottages, it is illegal to enforce a ‘resident riders only’ policy because the bus itself was purchased by Wildcat Transit with federal grant money,” Conner said. “Because of so many non-residents attempting to ride the bus from downtown, it became apparent that the bus was not utilized as intended and the safety goals were not being met.”
“The intention of the late-night bus was to provide residents of The Cottages a safe ride to and from town late at night. What it ended up doing was bringing large numbers of people out to the Cottages,” Mays said. “This resulted in unsafe conditions for the bus driver, passengers, vehicle traffic and pedestrians. Due to multiple incidents from both weekends, the management at The Cottages and the police shut the bus down last weekend.”
Students also expressed safety concerns. Their concerns, however, were about a lack of transportation for students and residents and also about what could result from the decision.
Joelle Quimby, a resident of The Cottages, said that she disagreed with the decision to cancel the bus service.
“Someone’s gonna get hurt eventually by it,” Quimby said, referring to the possibility of students driving under the influence and of walking to and from The Cottages at night. “I just think it’s dumb.”
“I don’t think it’s a good thing,” Sam Mannai, another resident of The Cottages, said of the cancellation. “(There’s a) higher chance that kids are gonna drive drunk now.”
Mannai proposed as a solution to safety concerns for bus drivers and passengers that The Cottages place a security guard on the bus to monitor passengers.
“Operating a vehicle while under the influence is clearly a concern regardless of the situation or circumstance,” Conner said. “Be it on or off our properties, one of our goals has always been the safety of our residents, and we will continue to look for ways to ensure that.”
There were also complaints from students about the fact that Safe Rides, a program also provided by University Transportation Services, would not pick up students from The Cottages last weekend.
Mays said that in the future, Safe Rides will service students at The Cottages, but with an exception.
“They will be dropped off or picked up on Technology Drive only,” he said. “Due to the unsafe conditions caused by the numbers of people riding the buses to the Cottages, it was decided that Safe Rides would not service The Cottages this past weekend. Going forward, we have serious concerns for the safety of our bus drivers and passengers going to and from The Cottages.”
While The Cottages Connector weekend route is permanently canceled, “The Cottages are free to provide an alternate method going forward,” Mays said.
“We are in the midst of evaluating what options we have for providing safe transportation for all our students at all times,” Conner said.
An email was sent out Thursday by UTS to all university Housing residents to notify them of the cancellation of the bus route and why the decision was made.
The weekday hours for The Cottages Connector bus route will remain unchanged. The hours for the route are now only Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.