Friday night, USM piloted a run of the new late night bus to First Friday Art Walk in an attempt to give students more to do on the weekend.
The pilot will be the first of two test runs to determine whether the new bus will be a permanent addition to Gorham life. Student body President Kelsea Dunham has been working on the new bus schedule since the summer and went through Joy Pufhal, special assistant to the chief student affairs officer, and Student Success for funding and approval. A date for the second pilot run has not yet been set.
The students who took the late night bus were pleased to have an easier way to get to and from Portland on the weekend. “It was still great. It is so nice to be able to know that I have a ride back to Gorham when I need. It’s nice to not have to worry about heavily planning to just see my friends,” said senior art history major Bobbie Pirruccello.
Classics professor and department chair Jeannine Uzzi has advocated for the installment of a late night bus option for residential students for quite some time. “I can tell you that my efforts to engage my EYE, honors and other general education students in co-curricular activities has always been a challenge in part because of the Gorham bus schedule,” she said. “One year I tried to offer my EYE students a film festival to go along with their class, but because the bus returns to Gorham from Portland so early, I couldn’t show a film after people’s evening classes were over,” Uzzi said.
The bus is, in part, aligned with on-going efforts to enliven Gorham student life by persuading students to stay on campus for the weekend rather than travel home or elsewhere. “When I campaigned for student body president a lot of people complained about [having] nothing to do on campus on weekends. A lot of people have friends in Portland. It just made sense to bring these students to Portland,” Dunham said. “I tabled in Gorham on Wednesday and lots of students were excited about this schedule. Hopefully they actually decide to ride it.”
While some students are excited about the schedule change, other think that the schedule could be further adjusted. “I think the bus schedule is a really good thing,” said Julie Clavette a junior in Social Work said. “I just wish that there was a bus that brought students back to Gorham on Sundays.”
The late night buses will run from 7:30 to 11:30 from Bailey in Gorham to Portland’s Monument Square. Students will be able to take the bus back to Gorham now as late as midnight.