PVTA hopes route detours will deter partying

By Brittney Figueira

Once his class ended last Friday at 7 p.m., Jeremy Fontaine, a student at the University of Massachusetts, waited for a bus that never came.

Samantha Webber/Collegian
Samantha Webber/Collegian

Fontaine, who lives in North Amherst, was waiting on campus for the Pioneer Valley Transportation Authority buses that run north on North Pleasant Street, specifically the 31 and the 30 routes.

Though he remembered seeing fliers earlier in the week regarding changes to the PVTA bus schedule, Fontaine said he assumed any changes were related to the construction near Hasbrouck Laboratory, and disregarded the information.

“It’s a good 15 to 20 minutes’ walk to my house which is not too bad,” said Fontaine, adding, “but after being on campus from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., the last thing I want to do is walk.”

UMass Transit Operations Manager Glenn Barrington said bus lines were running, though some routes were “detoured.”

Such routes will also be changed this weekend.

According to a tweet posted on UMass Transit’s Twitter page, “From 6PM Fri 4/27 to Sun morning 4/29, Route 31 won’t service stops between UMass & N Amherst Ctr. Catch buses @ GRC or Townehouse Apt #PVTA.”

Route 31, the route that runs from the Boulder Apartments in South Amherst, to the center of Sunderland, will not stop along North Pleasant Street after stopping at the Arnold House on campus, near the rotary. The bus will not stop just past the rotary, across from the Puffton Village Apartments, nor in the center of North Amherst, near the intersection of Meadow Street and North Pleasant Street.

Barrington said such changes to the route were made at the request of the Amherst Police Department and the Puffton Village Apartments.

He added that such changes in the routes were made in hopes of cutting down on parties during the weekend at off campus housing in North Amherst.

To thwart rowdy parties traditionally held at the end of the year, Amherst Police Department has increased officers on duty.

“The entire department has been ordered to work,” said Capt. Christopher  Pronovost, in an interview with The Republican last week, meaning 43 officers will be on duty.

Notorious parties such as the “Hobart Hoedown” have drawn more than 1,000 attendees to the North Amherst apartment complexes in recent years. Last year, officers closed the roads near Puffton Village Apartments and Hobart Lane to deter partygoers.

Last weekend, two dozen people were issued alcohol related citations.

Barrington added that students who have had too much to drink have also caused destruction to UMass Transit Services property. According to Barrington, students have caused approximately $25,000 in property damage through the destruction of five bus shelters.

Although some may think cutting off particular bus stops may decrease off-campus partying, others believe the students are going to drink regardless.

Newly appointed Student Government Association President Akshay Kapoor has been working with PVTA to provide a “Sober Shuttle” program for students expected to be in full swing by the fall semester.

Through a $1.29 increase to student activity fees, Kapoor said he has come up with a program to transport students from bars or other off-campus hot spots, and back to their homes safely. According to Kapoor, the fee could help prevent students driving drunk.

Additionally, Kapoor said the sober shuttle will help prevent overcrowding on the bus.

“This is one of those areas where we don’t want to be turning anyone away,” he said. “If this is someone’s last resort to get home safely, I think it’s pretty unfair to see a problem and not recognize it.”

He added, “so this is a really easy cost effective program for students, and I think it’s something that can help SGA branch out more.”

Regarding the current bus detours, Kapoor finds this to be a two-fold solution. He acknowledges that in the past students have ripped off bus doors and harassed student bus drivers, but in hopes to protect their operations, students are being affected negatively.

“One of the biggest things for me is not only the drunk driving impact, but the transportation part. I mean I had to give my buddy a ride home that would usually take the bus off campus on Friday,” said Kapoor.

According to Kapoor, there is always a balance in every decision made by both PVTA and UMass Transit services.

“There’s no perfect solution right now, and I wish there was but
we’ll see,” he said.

Brittney Figueira can be reached at [email protected]