SVSU, Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services (STARS), Student Association and the Kochville Township DDA are partnering to bring a “Nightline” bus route to campus that will begin its pilot process Thursday, March 23.
The SVSU Nightline is intended to provide a safe and reliable mode of transportation for students between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday during a four-week piloting period.
“We all feel it is very important for students to have access to safe and reliable transportation so they can enjoy all of what Saginaw has to offer, including bowling, movies and entertainment,” said SVSU Director of External Affairs Jaime Leyrer said. “There is a lot going on in the region, and we hope this will become a permanent program so that our students can have access to enjoy where they live most of the year. We are looking forward to exploring this further if the pilot is successful.”
The route will depart from the SVSU Student Center at the top of every hour: 9 p.m., 10 p.m., 11 p.m., midnight and 1 a.m. Then, it will departing at the Hamilton and Court intersection in Old Town Saginaw at the bottom of every hour: 9:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m., 11:30 p.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.
“Student Association and the External Affairs office at SVSU thought that a nightline bus route would be a great opportunity for students,” Student Association President Cody McKay said. “After putting together a focus group, we determined that a pilot route would be put into place to gauge student interest in a service like this.”
Included on the route are restaurants, bars and other entertainment centers near campus such as Cardinal’s Nest Tavern, Stardust Bowling Alley and Buffalo Wild Wings. The bus will also travel further into Old Town Saginaw to places such as Mac’s bar, Woody’s Draught House, and Retro Rocks.
To board the bus, SVSU students will simply need to present their student ID card to the bus driver upon entry. Non-students will pay $1.50 per ride.
The Nightline will be available on the weekends of March 23, March 30, April 6 and April 20.
According to McKay, the relationship with STARS has been simple and beneficial given STARS already visits SVSU frequently for its daily routes.
“STARS and SVSU have a few bus routes that run during the day,” he said. “However, this bus will be the only one that STARS will run during this time of the night, giving SVSU students a unique opportunity to get around for free in the area.”
While the External Affairs office has been the main campus partner involved in the SVSU Nightline, Student Association has also worked with University Communications to market the route.
“Director of Governmental Affairs John Kaczynski and I have been working with a committee made up of members from STARS, The New Ezekiel Project, the Kochville DDA and local business owners for the past couple of months to bring this program to life,” Leyrer said. “We also completed a student focus group to see what kinds of activities and places they go to and to expose them to the potential route by bringing them on a STARS bus.”
The SVSU Nightline hopes to target a wide range of students. Specifically, organizers are targeting international students as a group that could benefit greatly from the service. Many international students do not have cars and, as a result, have trouble experiencing the local nightlife.
“We are hoping to target a wide range of students,” McKay said. “We hope that students on campus will utilize the bus to save money and allow for more of their friends to travel together to wherever they are going. This is also a great opportunity for those that live off campus to park on campus and take the bus system with their friends and then stay the night after going out.”
If the pilot period goes well, it is likely that the SVSU Nightline will be something available to students every weekend during the Fall 2017 semester, with room for further expansion after that time.
“My hope is to see the bus have students on it throughout the pilot and for them to have a great experience,” McKay said. “I am most looking forward to students having the ability to travel around the area and becoming more familiar with OldTown Saginaw. This is will not only provide students with more opportunities to do on the weekends but will also give them a free and safe way to travel around the area.”