For North Campus residents who are planning to stay in town for Thanksgiving, it could be a long walk in the cold to reach Central Campus. There will be no University bus service tomorrow or Friday, but bus service will resume on Saturday morning.
Due to budget cuts, the University shut down the bus routes on these two days for the first time ever.
In past years, the only two days with no bus service were Christmas and New Year’s Day. Because of budget cuts, however, this year there will be no bus service on four additional holidays — Thanksgiving and the day after, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Independence Day this year was the first time these service cutbacks were imposed.
“We looked where we could cut back with minimal impact to students and faculty,” said David Miller, director of Parking and Transportation Services, referring to the reduced bus routes.
Miller said Parking and Transportation Services researched the issue to see how cutting bus service on the holidays would affect students and faculty.
They made the decision to cut bus service on the holidays because of the dramatic decrease in passengers. Generally the buses transport more than 2,000 passengers on a typical Saturday or Sunday, but carry just 300 to 500 passengers on a holiday.
“The cost for the trip is five times as much (on a holiday),” Miller added.
The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority also will not run any bus routes on Thursday, but buses will run regular routes on Friday.
Miller said the people who will be most affected by the cut in bus services are people who live in the residence halls and Family Housing on North Campus who plan to stay on campus during the holiday.
Engineering senior Fatima Alkatheeri, who will not be going home for Thanksgiving because her family lives in the Middle East, was disappointed to hear there will be no bus service tomorrow or Friday.
Alkatheeri said she wishes the University would run some buses over the holiday — even if they only ran every 20 or 30 minutes — rather than cutting bus services altogether.
“What about the people who live in Bursley or Baits and want to come to Central Campus? It’s just not convenient for people at all,” Alkatheeri said.
Miller said the department has had to cut back in other ways as well.
The extra buses that run during peak hours of weekdays no longer run on Fridays.
“We dropped those on Friday afternoons because it wasn’t necessary,” Miller added.
Despite the changes to the holiday bus schedule, Alkatheeri said in general she is pleased with the University bus system.
“I usually take the Bursley-Baits and that runs every 10 to 15 minutes, and I’ve never had a problem. It’s very rare that I wait for more than 10 minutes,” Alkatheeri added.
Miller said Parking and Transportation Services’s budget cuts are “rather minor” because out of their $4 million budget, they have cut less than one percent.
Altogether, the department cut about $35,000, of which $10,000 came from the holiday cutbacks, Miller said.
Although Parking and Transportation Services has cut bus service on four additional holidays, Miller said it has actually added additional bus service to Northwood family housing because many undergraduates are living in the Northwood apartments this year.
The increased residency at Northwood is due to an unusually large freshman class. These additional bus services are costing the department over $400,000 a year.
“In that case, we’re going over budget because we want to help the housing situation,” Miller added.