June 15, 2010
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SRU's Student Government Association bus service grows fourfold
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - "Give 'em a bus, and they will ride," is clearly the motto for Slippery Rock University's Student Government Association, which has seen bus ridership increase fourfold since the free service was implemented in 2005.
The Office of Cooperative Activities released five-year ridership data that shows during the 2005-06, the initial year of operation, 39,664 people rode the bus during the August to May reporting period. That number increased to 168,443 during 2009-10.
The free service has evolved to include an on-campus loop and an off-campus loop with stops at a number of off-campus apartment complexes and businesses in Slippery Rock.
"The numbers show great improvement and growth," said Tyson L. Johnston, who served as SGA vice president for public relations and oversaw the bus program until his graduation in May. "The success of having two loops and the addition of an evening schedule and late night service on weekends is apparently meeting student needs."
"SGA improved and extended the service to meet student demand and that resulted in a substantial growth in ridership. The service is an alternative to driving and is a service to students who don't have cars," Johnston said.
The bus program's budget for 2009-10 was $178,842 and was funded through student fees.
Some of the ridership increase is credited to SGA's purchase of the Next-Bus system that both tracks and reports bus locations to aid would-be riders, and the fact the system includes an automatic rider-count system. Previous rider tallies relied on driver-recorded passenger counts.
As might be expected, ridership increased each year in direct relations to outdoor temperatures, with the greatest number of riders reported in the December-February period. Substantial increases were also recorded in March and April, a fact linked to increase rainfall.
December 2009 showed the highest number of riders at 29,722, besting October at 23,784 and April 2010 at 23,872. No buses run from May's graduation through the start of fall semester classes.
The Next-Bus service also offers a telephone number - 724.698.2040 - and an online report - http://www.nextbus.com - that gives potential riders the exact time of the next bus' arrival at a particular stop. The system makes use of satellite tracking to monitor each buses route location. An SRU Green Fund Grant provided part of the funding for the Next-Bus Service.
When operational, buses run 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday. The late-night service operates 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Service will resume with the start of fall semester classes.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.