Monday, May 8, 2017

Downtown shuttle for UIS students wraps up first semester

Robert Ewa sat in the parking lot of University of Illinois Springfield’s recreation center Friday night with the lights of his 16-passenger van flashing, waiting to shuttle college students looking to experience Springfield’s nightlife to downtown and back. “Some weekends, it’s crazy,” said Ewa, with more than a dozen students lining up for a ride each hour. “And then some weekends, maybe there’s other events, I carry only three (passengers).”

This past weekend marked the end of the semester-long test run for the free service that ran every hour between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

UIS Student Government Association, several bars and Downtown Springfield Inc. sponsored the shuttle. Student government members said it went well and the incoming president is considering continuing the service in the fall.

Meanwhile, a couple of bar owners say they’d be on board to support the shuttle next semester as well. “This was more of test phase to see if students would be interested in it, and we found they are,” said outgoing student government president Austin Mehmet, who worked with downtown establishments and DSI to set up the service.

Knowing the shuttle is there for students to use was one hurdle in its first semester. Ewa said some passengers found out about the service from others who had used it.

The student government association put $3,000 of its $10,000 budget toward the shuttle, according to Mehmet. It’s up to the incoming government to decide whether to allocate the same chunk next semester. Garrett Nimmo, the incoming student president, said he’d be open to funding it again if students are interested, but he’s also heard about another transportation need on campus.

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 7, 2017.

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