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23 April 2014

Bus changes planned for upcoming football games

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The Sun Life Stadium Transportation Task Force met this spring to discuss changes that will affect students attending football games during the fall.

Pat Whitely, vice president for student affairs, led the task force. It was comprised of 22 members, eight of which were students.

The task force, which met three times this semester, met for the last time on March 6 to discuss the initiatives that will take effect in August.

Recommended changes include later bus departure times. Shuttles that transport students to Sun Life Stadium will not begin to depart until the end of the third quarter.

According to Whitely, this will occur to make sure that students remain in the stadium to help contribute to school spirit.

“We want students to remain in the stadium to support the team and help create that winning environment,” she said.

In addition, students cannot begin lining up for buses until the end of the third quarter.

“We will have additional stadium staff at student gate exits informing students who may want to leave that they cannot begin lining up for the shuttles until the end of the third quarter,” Whitely said.

In cases of extreme heat or inclement weather, Whitely mentioned that students could retreat to the concourse areas. 

Students are also encouraged to plan ahead if they want to leave before the end of the third quarter.

To resolve the issue with the number of buses that take students to the stadium, students will also be required to take part in a “Sun Life Shuttle Opt-In Process.” In other words, students are required to opt-in for round-trip or one-way trips to and from campus.

“The goal is to get better data on how many students are utilizing the shuttles in some form,” Whitely said.

Interfraternity Council President Brad Bradshaw, a student on the task force, said that the two major goals were figuring out the number of buses going to and coming back from Sun Life, and confronting student behavior issues.

“The buses are designed to enjoy football games and the tailgate experience,” he said. “The idea was to create a safe environment and not destroy the culture of athletics.”

Students will only need to present their Cane Cards to board the bus. According to Whitely, students who still want to ride the bus but forget to opt-in will still be able to ride the shuttles.

Other changes and recommendations will take place in August. Students will be encouraged to secure their tickets to games earlier, and more marketing will be done to raise awareness on alcohol safety.

“We want students to get accustomed to securing their game ticket by Wednesday before a Saturday game,” Whitely said. “We really need to continue to market to the students and educate the students about taking care of themselves and their friends at the stadium.”

Bradshaw also stressed that the task force’s main goal is to increase student attendance. 

Students should also not worry about the football game experience changing, he said.

“We want to preserve the experience and that everyone have an awesome time,” he said.

Overall, Whitely is pleased with the changes.

“I think this is a great start,” she said. “I’m pleased with the work of the task force, and I think it’s a terrific start. We do need to market these changes to the student body and hope for their cooperation. Remember, the whole purpose of the buses is to go to the football game and support the team.”