AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB) — The name of the bus says it all – ‘The Sober Shuttle.’
It’s a pilot program for UMass students that will let them take a bus after hours and after several drinks, safely back to campus.
On weekend nights and into the early morning, the bars and restaurants lining the main drag here in Amherst are packed with college students.
And come closing time or last call for alcohol, many of those same students are left with a choice: walk back to the UMass campus, call a cab, or drive – until now.
“So my idea, since I came freshman year was why don’t we have this service? Almost every major university has something similar. If it’s not a bus program, at least a car program,” says UMass Student Government Association President Akshay Kapoor.
Kapoor took it upon himself, after about a year of planning, to come up with this.
‘The Sober Shuttle’ which is a bus in service Thursday through Saturday all semester long.
It is a service for UMass students by UMass students and only those with a valid UMass Amherst ID will be allowed on board. No one else.
“I believe it adds to the rest of our bus fleet that’s out there late in the morning and it only adds to the students safety,” says Allan Byam, general manager of UMass Transit.
The bus will eventually showcase this sign – Safe, Secure, Smart – with pickups downtown at 1:20 and 2:00 a.m. which is after normal bus service ends.
While it’s billed as free for UMass Amherst students, there is a small fee tacked on every semester of about a dollar a student.
A small price to pay to keep students off the roads and potentially save lives.
“I think one student remarked to me, that’s cheaper than buying one drink at the bars and I get a safe ride home all semester and I don’t have to worry about it.”
Kapoor is quick to point out, ‘The Sober Shuttle’ will not be a party bus. A UMass police officer is on board to make sure things don’t get out of hand, and if all goes well, the shuttle will be back again for the fall semester.