Shuttle bus budget has no room for trips to Meijer

Andy Ouriel and Andy Ouriel

Three weeks ago during move-in weekend, incoming students were treated with bus rides to Meijer (a program of Midnight Madness), but for the rest of the year the option of campus supplying shuttles to the grocery store is over.

Due to a lack of funding, campus shuttles have no plans in the near future to add Meijer to their list of off-campus destinations.

“I push my budget as far as I can,” shuttle manager Fred Smith said. “It all comes down to funding. I can’t add [Meijer] if I don’t take something away.”

Since Meijer is located on the east side of Bowling Green and the shuttles do not have any stops in the vicinity, it would add time onto the route, resulting in longer waits between stops.

“If we go to Meijer, [the time] will go from 10 to 18 minutes,” Smith said. “People won’t wait that long for a bus to pick them up.”

A popular demand for rides to Meijer have been brought up by students who rode the buses as part of Midnight Madness and think shuttle services should add it as a regular stop.

“It was fun and a nice experience,” freshman Rachel Willingham said she was one of many students who participated in the event. “I have no other way to get out there and I would like to see an addition of Meijer [to the bus schedule].”

The Office of Campus Activities realizes that offering the route for students like Willingham, who don’t have cars, is a great way for them to get room and school supplies. This is why they keep offering the yearly trip to Meijer.

“This is a great opportunity with close to 800 students participating,” Sue Pelo, Coordinator for Major Events said. “Especially for first year students without cars.”

Due to contrary belief, the shuttles are not funded from student tuition, rather they get their money from parking and traffic and receive no general fees.

Smith tries to be as efficient and friendly toward students as possible regarding shuttle stops. He asks drivers to work overtime and has offered special routes to Meijer in the past.

For years, there were”Christmas Shuttles” to Meijer, but that ended in 2004 after eight years due to a lack of people riding it. And it was becoming too expensive.

Smith is always at his budget limit and said it would be a bad decision economically if he added Meijer as a stop, even with taking something like Kroger or Wal-Mart off the routes.

Also, gas prices rising over $2 on average in the last five years have also hampered the decision of expanding stops on routes.

“I offer the alternatives that I can,” Smith said. “Money cost is what it comes down to.”