Carolina Torres – Special to The Southern News –
It is 7:10 a.m. in Waterbury, Conn. The two sisters, Angela and Amber Carr are leaving their house to take the bus to SCSU and be punctual for their first class – which starts in three hours, at 10:10 a.m.
“If you have a destined time that you really have to be somewhere, you have to arrange enough time,” said Angela Carr, a freshman political science major at Southern. “Since the buses are really not the most reliable.”
The Carr’s journey starts at 7:10 in the morning. The J bus takes them from Waterbury to New Haven in about an hour. Then they have to wait at least 15 minutes at the New Haven Green to catch the B1 bus to SCSU. If the J bus is on time, and if the B1 bus is punctual as well, they arrive at school at 9:30 a.m., 40 minutes before their actual classes start.
“The buses are really unreliable. But on the other hand they are a cheap alternative to driving,” said Amber Carr, a sophomore finance major, “especially now that we get the U-Passes for free.”
According to CT Transit Assistant General Manager for Planning and Marketing Philip Fry, 1,800 Southern students are provided with U-Passes, which allows free rides with all CT Transit buses. In the months of October, CT Transit documented 16,301 rides of Southern students.
From the 11,769 students who study at Southern, only 2,728 live on campus. Those 9,041 who live off campus have to get to school either by car, or they rely on public transportation.
Public transportation in and around New Haven is covered by CT Transit, the Connecticut Department of Transportation-owned bus service. It operates on over 22 local routes. The B line is the one which Southern’s students have to take to get to the university.
The Carr sisters are especially worried about the upcoming winter season.
“There can be instances,” said Angela Carr, “when it is practically impossible for us to get to school.”
Amber Carr adds that this actually has already happened to them last year.
“There was a snowstorm, so we weren’t able to make it to class,” she said. “But New Haven didn’t get much snow, so school was still open. My professors are very understanding though, which is very helpful.”
CT Transit makes certain arrangements when the weather conditions threaten to restrict public transportation, said Fry.
“We are always checking on the Weather Channel and the weather services in order to be prepared for every weather condition,” he said. “Of course the buses are prepped, for instance we take care that the depth of the tread of the wheels are appropriate for the certain conditions.”
Fry added that more transportation supervisors than usual are in the field and that they call out extra buses if there is any necessity.
Not only does the unreliability of the buses bother the Carr sisters, but also some of the passengers who ride the bus day by day, just as they do.
“Some people at the bus are crazy. I mean literally crazy,” said Amber Carr.
She talks about an incident, where a visibly drunk woman on the bus started to offend the other riders.
“It was like 1 p.m.!” she said. “She was talking to all the people in the bus and touching some in an inappropriate way. And she started fighting with everyone who made eye contact with her. But the bus driver just didn’t throw her out. And this is nothing unusual – it happens all the time.”