More than one University of Miami tradition started last Thursday as the Canes made their debut at Dolphin Stadium. From now on, student fans will be getting to the games in chartered buses provided by the university instead of taking the Metrorail.
For the August 28 game against Charleston Southern, the university provided 80 buses to transport students to and from the game. According to Dan Westbrook, University Center director, 60 of them were used to take students to the game and 67 were used to bring them back. At a rate of 47 to 60 people per bus, Westbrook estimates that around 3,000 students attended the game through the newly implemented transportation system.
“It takes out the guesswork,” sophomore Ashleigh Maynard said. “And it’s safer. We don’t have to cross US-1 anymore or change from the Metrorail to the buses.”
Still, with travel times that ranged from 50 minutes to as much as an hour and a half, some students expressed concern about the amount of time the trip took.
“It would’ve taken someone almost the same length of time if they had taken their own car,” Westbrook said. “There’s really nothing that we can do to bring the stadium closer to us.”
The university also explored alternative routes and a combination of Metrorail and buses, but negotiations were not successful due to a recently passed law that does not allow Metro-Dade transit to provide the same service it did years ago.
There were other variables that the administration also tried to control, among which was the student’s behavior in the buses. In order to ensure that bus loading and stadium entry procedures went smoothly, approximately 40 staff members were directly involved, not counting student volunteers, the athletic department and resident assistants who were in charge of bringing the freshmen from their floors.
The class of 2012 had the advantage of riding separate, freshman-only buses as well taking part in the traditional Freshman Walk. Thirty buses were specifically designated for taking freshmen to the stadium in time for the 6:30 p.m. walk, with 24 of them being used.
Departure for the game began at 3:30 p.m. and the last freshman bus left at around 5:15 p.m., while the rest of the student body had the opportunity to catch a bus up until 7:57 p.m., when the final bus left the university.
In the future, stickers will serve as students’ entrance ticket to the game. There will be one sticker distribution point for future games, and many students worry that having to stand in line to get the sticker will result in diminished attendance to the football games.
“No one will have time to wait through long lines, and if you forget then you can’t decide to go last minute because you don’t have a sticker,” Maynard said.
The administration, however, is confident that attendance rates will not decrease since many other events on campus require students to pick up some sort of pass in order to attend.
Thursday’s football game has also afforded the administrators a view of what could go wrong for future games. Variables like rain, possible bottlenecks, and the times that students plan to go to and leave the stadium that did not factor into Thursday’s equations will be taken into account in the planning for the September 27 game against North Carolina.
Departure times and location for future games will depend on the BankUnited Center’s schedule and the times for the games. Stickers will also be distributed starting a week before the game.
Any comments regarding the UBus transportation system can be directed towards Student Government or addressed personally to Westbrook via e-mail.