Party bus offers expanded routes

Kelly Pickerel

What students refer to as the “party bus” is in action once again this semester with extra stops and longer running hours.

For late-night rides to downtown Kent, PARTA offers two bus routes: the Downtowner and the Suburban.

Katie Hale, executive director of the Undergraduate Student Senate, said she saw a need for an improved downtown bus route on the busiest party nights of the week, so Thursday and Friday bus routes became one of her platforms last year.

“It was one of those main goals that everyone talks about,” she said. “Everyone says they want to improve the university. This is something that needed to be done.”

Frank Hairston, customer service director at PARTA, said extending the downtown bus routes was also requested by downtown businesses, Kent City Council and the school systems.

Hale said she believes the improved bus routes will decrease drunk driving and increase safety for students.

Downtown businesses aren’t complaining either.

“Downtown businesses are very excited about it,” he said. “They wanted more people to come later in the evenings. The Suburban runs throughout the Kent community to downtown entertainment and businesses till 2 in the morning.”

Mike Fuller, junior Spanish major and manager at Water Street Tavern, said he’s seen an increase of customers on Thursday and Friday nights.

“I’ve seen the buses go by, but I don’t know if I can really attribute an increase in customers to that,” Fuller said, adding that the increase could just be the result of students returning for classes.

The Downtowner route runs on Thursdays and Fridays between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. The route starts near University Townhomes and travels throughout campus, ending in downtown Kent.

The Suburban route, running Monday through Friday, reaches University Plaza and the downtown area until 2 a.m.

Hale said she’s really pushing the service by marketing it in downtown bars, hoping more students will take advantage of it.

Hairston said the routes are beneficial to students.

“If students want to get downtown, ride the bus.”

Contact student politics reporter Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].