Shuttle buddies: The story of the Bear Bus

Oakland University’s Bear Bus program has been a staple on Oakland’s campus since its inception in 2009. The program allows students and faculty the opportunity to be shuttled around campus to designated bus stop areas.

The Bear Bus program provides a lucrative opportunity for students to work on campus, meet new people and make a little money in the process.

Keisa Saunders, a junior majoring in health sciences, has taken advantage of the program by spending the last year and a half as a shuttle driver.

“I’ve enjoyed my time as a Bear Bus driver,” Saunders said. “It’s given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

In order to become a Bear Bus driver, Saunders said, she had to take class similar to a driver’s education course.

“We had to take a road test with a shuttle,” Saunders said. “After the test I received my CDL license that allows me to drive the shuttles.”

Saunders has spent her time as a Bear Bus driver getting to know a lot of interesting people which, she said, is one of the best parts about the job.

“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people like faculty or people who have made donations to the school,” Saunders said. “Those are people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

Aside from faculty, Saunders also spends time with a lot of students. With the main campus being slightly more than a stone’s throw away from most of the dorms and apartments, many resident students take advantage of the Bear Bus program. Due to this, Saunders sees several repeat riders.

One of those repeaters is Chris Mosier.

Mosier, a senior history major, lives on campus and uses the buses as a quick way to get around.

“I like that the Bear Buses are already built into our tuition,” Mosier said. “It’s nice and keeps me out of the cold.

Mosier said that the program overall is a good thing for students, but if he could change one thing it would be the bus routes.

“Some of the routes make for long wait times and sometimes it seems unnecessary,” Mosier said.

The routes are a common criticism from most of the regular riders, Saunders said. Most of the drivers, including her, agree.

“We, as drivers, don’t have much of a voice when it comes to the routes,” Saunders said. “But we drive the routes and interact with the students. I feel like the drivers could help make routes that were more beneficial.”

Many of the Bear Bus routes have changed this year due to the several ongoing construction projects happening on campus. The routes should go back to normal as the construction begins to wrap up, according to Saunders.

Even with the altered bus routes, the program has had a lot of positive changes this year as well.

“The program has doubled since last year,” Saunders said. “In terms of students riding, drivers; it’s bigger.”

The program has also added new supervisors this year, and is looking to continue to grow larger-with more drivers next year.

Another service in the works is the addition of a 24-hour Bear Bus shuttle.

“Right now we have vans that leave campus and go to Meijers, Target and downtown,” Saunders said. “We are hoping that we will have a 24-hour Bear Bus that will be able to leave campus as well.”

Saunders said that she has enjoyed her time as a shuttle driver, and she is even planning to apply to be a supervisor.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time as a Bear Bus Driver,” Saunders said. “It’s given me a chance to see a lot of things that nobody else gets to see.”