University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900

Expanded Bus Service
Plans Delayed

 MAILED:  Jan. 15, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — Plans to expand Eau Claire Transit bus service into the evening and early morning hours during the weekends this winter and spring have been delayed because the Eau Claire City Council and the union representing bus drivers could not reach a contract agreement.

The City Council Monday rejected the union’s terms, which means Eau Claire Transit will likely now enter binding arbitration with the union to develop a two-year contract.

The expanded bus service will remain in the proposal, said Sarah Harvieux, health educator and alcohol education coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

“We will see what it will take to make this service happen,” Harvieux said. “If it is eventually approved and the price comes back too high, the university will have the option of declining. Unfortunately, the process could take a year or longer.”

UW-Eau Claire’s Student Senate had allocated $3,900 to help fund the service, and several private donors also had contributed funds, Harvieux said, noting that the pilot project was expected to cost about $14,000.

“Students and private donors thought the expanded service was valuable enough to help provide the necessary funding, which makes this setback that much more disappointing,” Harvieux said, adding that the city of Eau Claire and Eau Claire Transit management also have been supportive of the proposal.

The pilot project was to have expanded bus service to 3 a.m. on the weekends beginning Jan. 30, and ending March 20. City buses currently provide services until 11 p.m. on Fridays and 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

“The campus community and local business owners have requested that we provide late-night bus service on Fridays and Saturdays, giving students and community members more opportunities to enjoy late-night entertainment and to provide safe transportation during those weekend hours,” Harvieux said.

UW-Eau Claire’s Student Senate and United Hall Council were active in circulating petitions to demonstrate student support for the proposal, and UW-Eau Claire students went before the Eau Claire Transit Commission and City Council to ask that the proposal to expand the hours be supported.

“It’s unfortunate that it won’t move forward because it would have been good for the students and good for the community,” said Adrian Klenz, president of the Student Senate. “It would have made it easier for students to get to late movies, the mall and to venues where they could enjoy live music. All of those activities contribute to the local economy.”

The expanded service also would have addressed concerns about impaired drivers, and safe late-night transportation would reduce the risk of sexual and physical assaults and other crimes, Harvieux said. The service also may have reduced problems such as damage to property that homeowners say regularly occurs when intoxicated students walk through their neighborhoods on their way home from bars, she said.

“I am very disappointed we won’t be able to provide the campus and greater Eau Claire community with this expanded service this year as we had hoped,” Harvieux said. “But the positive relationship that was developed among the university’s work group, community, Eau Claire Transit and city officials makes me hopeful that this service will happen in the future.”

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JB


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: January 15, 2004