One year in, college maintains late-night bus route

Posted by Michael DuPr??

Prior to September 2010 the college and Saratoga Taxi maintained an arrangement to provide free rides for students returning to campus after 11 p.m. The free cab program was available to all Skidmore students and picked them up from any location in Saratoga Springs.

The program was replaced in fall of 2010 with an extension of CDTA bus hours. The additional bus service runs Thursday through Saturday from midnight to 4:15 a.m. between downtown and the college.

Officially dubbed the "Night Loop," but colloquially referred to by drivers and students alike as the "Drunk Bus," the bus follows a simplified version of the Route 473 – Jefferson Street bus that runs during daytime hours. Beginning at 9 p.m., the Night Loop runs from Case Center to Spring Street, before looping on Henry Street and returning to campus on Broadway. It skips the Embury Apartments and does not travel as far as the Saratoga Gaming and Raceway. It does, however, include stops at the corners of Caroline Street, both on the Broadway side and the Henry Street side.

Free cabs are available to students between the hours of 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Saratoga Taxi, and the various other cab services in town, remain open, however, and students wishing to return home by taxi are still able to request and pay for a cab from any point in town.

Expense and the enabling of underage drinking were cited among the reasons for ending the cab program. In a Student Government Association meeting one year ago, then-SGA-President Alex Stark '11, "Without using the cabs, Skidmore is saving $25,000 by using the CDTA bus route at night."

Despite the fiscal benefits, many students have expressed concerns and frustrations over the new program. Adam Abdel-Jaouad '12 took issue with the safety of the bus rides, stating, "The night bus is dangerously overcrowded." Douglas Pilawa, also a senior, voiced confusion over the schedule. After waiting 20 minutes for a bus downtown last weekend he announced, "Screw this, I'm walking back!" before saying of the new program, "I'm not a fan."

While Saratoga Taxi picked up students from anywhere within city limits, the CDTA bus is only available at designated stops along Broadway. Students returning from off-campus location in other areas of Saratoga Springs no longer have access to school-rides back to campus.

As a result, some students worry that drunk driving has increased since the cancellation of the cab program. "The system may have been abused, but it got people home safely," said Steve Pennell '12. Isabella McKeon '12 remarked that, without the cabs, people are likely to end up driving or walking back to campus when they are not in any condition to do so. Echoing that concern, Will Mosley '12 said "Not offering free cabs back to campus facilitates dangerous behavior. I would not be surprised if someone gets hit by a car while returning to campus."

One senior, who asked not to be named, remarked, "Since the cab program was cancelled, I have, on several occasions, received rides from students who should not have been driving."

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