Bear Bus Committee seeks to improve the system

If students can’t drive to the store or need a ride somewhere on campus, the Bear Bus system can transport students from place to place at no charge.  However, students have begun to take issue with the consistency, or lack thereof, Bear Bus has shown recently.

At its meeting on Monday, March 5, Oakland University Student Congress created the Bear Bus Coordination Committee to respond to the complaints students have regarding the university’s transportation system.

The chair of the committee, Asianae Gunn, has been a legislator for OUSC for a little over a year and is passionate about improving Bear Bus.

“When I joined Student Congress, one of the first things I wanted to work on was the Bear Bus,” Gunn said. “This is important to us and we want to be able to help work with Bear Bus to improve it.”

Gunn said the idea for the committee took hold when OUSC visited a conference in Grand Valley State University.

“I think I have 6 pages of noted of ideas from the conference,” Gunn said.

At the meeting when the committee was formed, legislators discussed the bus system that Grand Valley State University provided for its students.

By presenting a student ID, students can ride the city busses in Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas. GVSU compensates the city for this program with $3 million a year.

“We definitely will not be spending $3 million anytime soon,” Gunn said. “If there was a five to 10 year plan for the committee, that would be it. I don’t want to spend tuition dollars, but when I do I want it to be on something long-lasting and beneficial to students.”

The committee, which is comprised of Asianae Gunn, Tyler Fox, Ryan Fox and Mena Ibrahim, has far reaching ideas on how they want to reform Bear Bus. The main issues they want to fix are accessibility and communication.

The committee would like to have a more reliable app for the routes, the routes consistently running when they should be and to have all buses and vans be handicap accessible.

Other ideas the committee had were having professional drivers join students on the bus routes and move Bear Bus into its own committee on campus as opposed to being with University Housing.

Matt Belanger, the graduate coordinator of Bear Bus, shares some sentiments with the committee.

“I would actually like it to change quite a bit,” Belanger said. “I would like to see Bear Bus move into its own office, integrating in professional drivers with students and people driving the same routes everyday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.”

Belanger remains open to the idea of the committee and shares the desire to see Bear Bus improve.

“I think everyone in Bear Bus is always looking for ideas from other people on how to improve,” he said. “Improvements have to go through the proper channels so it’s not always the easiest process, but I think we can try to change what we can while we’re here. I’d like to hear from them.”

Whether any changes to Bear Bus will take place is yet to be seen, but both parties have expressed an interest in improving the system that is currently in place. This communication could lead to a better experience for Oakland students.