Does SDSU need a Drunk Bus?

Jeremy Fugleberg

Jeremy Fugleberg

Drunk Bus.

Vomit Comet.

Safe Ride.

The Midnight Special.

Students at other universites have many names for the bus they say has saved them a cold walk home, and possibly their lives.

The idea is simple: If drunken students have a cheap and easy way to get home, they won’t cause a nuisance walking across town, or risk their own and others lives by driving.

“It’s beneficial to us because we’re not going to endanger our lives or other people’s lives,” says University of Wyoming student Phil Bradley in a recent Associated Press story. Bradley is one of many UW students that use the “Safe Ride” program in Laramie, Wy.

From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, the routed shuttle service runs, and from 10 p.m. until 2:30 a.m., anyone in the community can call and request transportation.

And they do, by the thousands. Paid drivers and volunteer assistants get riders on the bus, keep track of where they need to go, and get them there.

The university pays for the program. At other universities, such as Indiana University in Bloominton, Ind., the late-night ride is paid for by student fees. At IU, the rate per student just doubled, from $1 per year to $2 of student fees per person. But the use of the service also grew 328 percent, according to the school’s newspaper.

SDSU’s growing student population means more people downtown at the bars. Drive around town from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. and you’ll see many of those people walking home, some more sober than others.

Hobo Days means an even busier than a normal weekend for bars in Brookings, yet the city-subsidized taxi service plans to maintain their regular staff and hours, according to a taxi company dispatcher. Most weekends two taxis stay out until 2:30 a.m. delivering fares, she said. That’s only half an hour after the bars close.

Last year on Hobo Days weekend, Brookings High School students volunteered to drive many drunken SDSU students home. They set up downtown and several student stood by with cars, ready to deliver a intoxicated student right to his or her doorstep.

So what would it take to provide a “drunk bus” for SDSU students?

First, the buses themselves. Some schools use 15 passenger vans, while others use old school buses. Fuel and upkeep would have to factored in as costs.

Second, personnel. Each “bus” would need at least a driver, and maybe a volunteer to help out with rowdy passengers and confusing addresses. Dispatchers would also be need if a on-call system was used.

Third, willing passengers. No matter how many ways students can get home conveniently, some will still insist on doing it the hard way, either walking or driving while drunk.

But is it worth it? Students at the schools that have the programs seem to think so, even if it just helps students avoid a potential public intoxication charge.

“We are not only keeping people from driving while intoxicated, we’re keeping them from walking as well,” said Alan Grant, Indiana University’s student vice president, according to the school’s newspaper.