GUSA has proposed the extension of weekend hours for GUTS buses that would increase the frequency of the buses to Rosslyn and Dupont Circle Metro stops.

The proposal, submitted to Todd Olson, interim vice president for student affairs, suggests that GUTS buses run to the Rosslyn etro during the day and the Dupont Metro in the evening.

The proposal was concerned with the gap in bus service that leaves students without easy access to nearby Metro stops on weekends. During this gap in service students often walk over the Key Bridge to get to the Rosslyn metro stop, which creates safety concerns late at night. In past years, the buses ran on Saturday’s from noon to 5 p.m. to Rosslyn and Dupont, making one trip per hour to each stop. But this year, Saturday buses have not yet started. So, buses are not in service after 11 p.m. on Fridays until early Monday morning.

Karen Frank, vice president for facilities and student housing, said that while several proposals have been discussed, finding the funding to extend hours and routes may make it difficult to approve the proposals.

“Different plans are all under consideration,” Frank said. “The big issue is how to pay for it all.”

Adding routes and hours means expanding the bus fleet, increasing bus maintenance and hiring more drivers, Frank said. “There is just so much wear and tear that the fleet can take,” she said. “One issue, frankly, is trade-offs. We can’t keep piling it on and consider it will be affordable. I don’t think it’s possible to do it all.”

Last spring, GUSA suggested three options for increased GUTS services on weekends in a proposal to Frank.

But GUSA never heard back from Frank, who was supposed to estimate the costs of the extended services in an analysis of whether or not the suggestions would be feasible, GUSA President Brian Morgenstern (COL ’05) said. The proposal also suggested an extension of the Law Center route to include a stop at the Capitol for students who interned on the Hill. But that has been tabled partly because of financial costs, Morgenstern said.

“We were told that funds are not available to alter the route since this extension would make the Law Center loop take even longer, and they would probably need more buses to keep the timing reasonable,” Morgenstern said. “I don’t necessarily buy into this because it’s a matter of a couple blocks, but I plan to revisit it.”

Extended hours for weekend GUTS buses are being considered, orgenstern said, but will probably have a different setup than what GUSA suggested. He hopes get an update in the next couple weeks about the proposal.

“Right now the Rosslyn and Dupont buses go during the day on Saturday only. We plan to have the Rosslyn bus stay active during the day but to shift the Dupont bus to evening hours, say, from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. in order to give students better, safer, cheaper access to the city on weekend evenings,” he said.

Under this set up, riders would have access to at least one etro stop for almost the whole day and night on Saturday.

That’s something Prisca Milliance (COL ’05) would like to have.

She said that because of the current GUTS schedule “on Saturday, the city is completely inaccessible to students. They barely run on Saturdays and don’t run on Sundays,” she said. When the buses did run on Saturdays, she said, “they run like every 2 hours.”

But this recent proposal has run into some challenges as there is only one bus that makes rounds on weekends, Morgenstern explained. Even with the weekend services proposed, an additional bus would be needed so that the wait time wouldn’t be too long, Morgenstern said.

“This will be a trial program that will be used to evaluate the need for permanent change.

Right now the ball is in Karen Frank’s court,” orgenstern said. “[Dimolitsas and Olson] are both supportive of the idea. We’re just waiting for Karen to implement it.”

Even if costs are a big factor to the buses running on weekends, Athena Chang, a graduate student in the Communication, Culture and Technology Program, said there are ways around it.

“They can charge students some money on weekends,” she said.

Change said that students who live off campus might want to go the library on campus during the weekend, but wouldn’t be able to as easily since the buses don’t run.

In a campus study of bus passengers conducted by InterHall last year, 94 percent of students surveyed said they would use GUTS more often if the shuttle bus hours and frequency were extended. The study also found that about 79 percent of students interviewed do not feel safe walking back from some Metro stops. A university wide electronic survey had similar findings.

The GUSA proposal also researched similar shuttle programs at four local schools, Catholic University of America, American University, Howard University and Trinity College. According to the study, Georgetown had the least frequent weekend service.

Staff writer Nick Timiraos contributed to this report.

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