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Student Life

Major Story #3: Bull Runner Ridership Increasing

TAMPA– In a time where gas prices have risen yet again and trying to find a parking space on campus results in nothing more than a headache, students at the University of South Florida have begun to rely more on the university provided bus system, the Bull Runner, to navigate around campus.

According to statistics from USF’s Parking and Transportation Services, ridership has increased 20 percent during a one year span from the end of last March to the end of March this year. The buses are free for all students and staff with a valid USF ID Card and provide service to approximately 3,784 riders per day.

Rick Fallin, who works for Parking and Transportation Services, attributes the increase in riders this year to more than just high gas prices and bad parking. “The most significant change this year is our new AVL system, this increases rider confidence and makes the bus easier to use,” Fallin stated in an e-mail.

The AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location) system, also known as the Bull Tracker, provides students with approximate arrival times for all routes at all stops as well as the ability to track and see where the buses are at all times via a live map. Arrival times and the live map can be viewed online and can be downloaded on mobile hand-held devices.

Some of the other factors that have contributed to the increase in riders over the past year are high gas prices, high prices for parking permits and a lack of parking on campus.

A substantial percentage of the students who regularly use the Bull Runner for their transportation are the ones who do not have their own cars. “The only reason I ride is because I don’t have a vehicle of my own and if nobody else is there to offer me a ride then the Bull Runner is the most convenient way to get around this campus,” senior Marcus Hicks said.

Even though many of the students that ride the Bull Runner are ones who do not own vehicles, the number of students with cars are also beginning to realize the benefits of the Bull Runner.

Ryan Kraft is a junior majoring in business and didn’t start riding the Bull Runner until the Summer of 2010 when he moved off campus. “I paid for a parking pass the first two years I lived on campus, so when I moved off campus and realized I could park for free at my girlfriend’s apartment complex on 42nd Street and take the bus from there I refused to buy another parking permit.” “Driving to and from work four to five times a week costs me enough in gas, the last thing I need is to spend $150 on a parking permit,”  Kraft said.

Not only have students without cars or permits started using the Bull Runner more often, but many students with parking permits have begun taking advantage of the service as well. Much of this is due to the fact that students have grown tired of prowling the parking lots for extended periods of time hunting for open spaces.

“Sometimes I will drive to my morning classes when there are open spaces, leave my car there, take the Bull Runner back to my apartment and then take it back to campus for my afternoon classes just so I don’t have to worry about finding a spot in the afternoon when everyone is on campus,” junior Brittany Willis stated.

After switching to bio-diesel fuel in 2002, the Bull Runner also appeals to those students going green. According to Fallin, the university switched to the bio-diesel fuel for a number of reasons. “It is environmentally better from an ecological standpoint and takes away the smell of regular gasoline. It also makes us less dependent on foreign petroleum oil and allows the engines to run smoother and quieter.”

Even though certain routes already go off campus to pick up students from apartment complexes on 42nd, 46th and 50th Streets as well as the University Mall, Parking and Transportation Services are planning on expanding the routes for next year.

For all these reasons the Bull Runner has seen a considerable increase in ridership over the past year. “The buses are definitely more packed than previous semesters, probably due to convenience and parking troubles on campus,” Kraft said.

Until gas prices come down and the university addresses the parking issues on campus more students will continue riding the Bull Runner to commute to, from and around campus. Even then many students may still utilize the services provided by the Bull Runner to save money.

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About Sean Barows

Mission Statement: The purpose of this blog is to explain the history of sports and the media in America. It will also provide comparisons with past media practices and that which we know today. Lastly, the goal of this blog is to keep you up to date on current trends as well as issues with the media that are visable in today’s ever expanding world of sports media coverage. Bio: I am currently a junior at the University of South Florida. I am a Mass Communications major focusing in journalism. I wrote for my high school newspaper, mostly sports articles, and I am a communications intern for the athletics department here at the University of South Florida. I love everything having to do with sports and have since I was six years old when I started playing roller hockey. Numerous years have passed, but the passion I have for sports and writing about them is as strong as ever.


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