Students looking to get off campus over the weekend may soon have more options thanks to new Friday and Sunday bus routes being pursued by the Undergraduate Student Government and office of transportation.
The proposed options would take students from the Student Activities Center to Port Jefferson and the Stony Brook AMC Theater on Friday nights. It would also direct the Sunday shopping route through Port Jefferson.
The Friday night option is a late night route that would run from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Though Suffolk Transit currently runs a route from Stony Brook to Port Jefferson and the Smith Haven Mall – an eight-minute walk from the AMC Theater – it is only free to students on Saturdays and the last bus from the mall leaves at 9:45 p.m.
The late night route would allow students to see later show times at the theater and hang around Port Jefferson later into the evening.
“One of the benefits is also to cut down drunk driving,” Mario Ferone, USG Vice President of Communications and Public Relations, said.
The route would be serviced by a contracted 21-passenger shuttle and would add $1 to $4 to the transportation fee depending on whether the shuttle comes in hour or half-hour intervals.
The Sunday shopping route change was first suggested by the Out-Of-State Student Association to help students traveling on the Port Jefferson Ferry to get to and from the university without paying $15 both ways for a taxi.
The altered route would bypass the current Pathmark, Wal-Mart and Target destinations in Centereach. Instead, it would take students to locations in Port Jefferson, including a Stop & Shop, Wal-Mart, bowling alley and the ferry.
Though a bus running at two-hour intervals would not add to the transportation fee, it could add from $2 to $5 if it runs at shorter intervals of 105 or 90 minutes. The current bus arrives every 45 minutes.
USG has received approximately 1,400 responses to surveys it has conducted since July showing that about half of students favor a Friday late-night route running in half-hour intervals. Two-thirds of students are divided between an altered Sunday route running in two-hour intervals or 90-minute intervals, while 14% of students opposed a Friday night route and 20% opposed a new Sunday route.
A final survey will be published on the Office of Transportation website on Monday, Sept. 9 with updated information on both routes. The survey will end on Sept. 17, after which a decision will be made at the Sept. 18 meeting of the SBU Transportation & Parking Advisory Group in SAC 304. All students are welcome to attend the meeting.
If either route is implemented, it will take a month to evaluate and approve a contracted shuttle service before it goes into operation. Any cost increases would be implemented in the 2014 to 2015 academic year.
PJ Abelein proposed the idea for the new bus routes last year when he was USG vice president of student life. The idea was fleshed out over the summer through several meetings between Ferone, USG President Adil Hussain and SBU Director of Sustainability & Transportation Operations James O’Connor.
Abelein is now the Director of the Agency of the Student Activities Board.
Ferone said the transportation office has been “very open” and supportive of the added routes if students want them. He added that whether the new routes are implemented comes down to whether students want to pay for them.
“It all comes down to money,” he said.