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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Bus ridership down in MKE, not with students

Tribune file photo
Tribune file photo

Milwaukee County buses saw a decrease of more than 1 million riders since last year, but that decline isn’t affecting the amount of Marquette students using the UPASS.

According to a ridership report by the American Public Transportation Association at the end of last month, 43 million people rode buses in 2013, which is a decrease of about 2 percent from 2012 and 8 million fewer trips than in 2007.

The study also said national bus ridership only declined by .1 percent, which contrasts with the large decrease in Milwaukee.

These numbers do not seem to affect student ridership, which stayed relatively consistent over the years, said Andrew Brodzeller, associate director of university communication.

“All full-time undergraduate students have access to the UPASS program,” Brodzeller said in an email. “We have not seen a change in the number of full-time undergraduate students who pick up their UPASS, which has hovered around 70 percent.”

Undergraduate students may pick up a UPASS, which is one of students’ required fees, at Union Station in the AMU every semester. The UPASS allows them to ride any Milwaukee County bus at any hour of the day.

D.J. Vogt, a junior in the College of Communication, said he uses his bus pass about twice a month. He said he finds the UPASS to be a valuable resource for getting around Milwaukee.

“The buses take you pretty much anywhere you want to go,” Vogt said in an email. “The limo doesn’t go down to places like Water Street so it’s more convenient.”

Although Vogt finds the value in having a UPASS, he admits that there are some downsides to taking the bus, such as timeliness and safety.

“The scheduled bus route times are often off by a significant amount of time,” Vogt said. “The late night route is usually tough to predict and seems unsafe.”

Brian Corbett, a junior in the College of Communication, however, said he hasn’t picked up his bus pass since his freshman year.

“I’ve felt that if I need a bus pass, one of my friends will have one for me to borrow,” Corbett said. “It just takes up space in my wallet if I get one.”

Corbett said he usually goes off campus about four or five times a week to go to Marquette basketball games, go downtown or buy groceries.

“Sometimes, my friends and I will take a cab, if we’re going downtown to the Bradley Center or some other venue,” Corbett said. “But for the most part I try to find someone with a car. If all else fails, I’ll try to find someone with a bus pass I can borrow, but that’s the last option.”

Brodzeller said about 1,100 24-hour parking passes are given out by Parking Services and an additional 900 commuter passes annually. This total represents about 17 percent of the 11,700 undergraduate, graduate, full-time and part-time students on Marquette’s campus.

Corbett said he doesn’t use the UPASS just because he has easy access to a car, but also because he hasn’t had great experiences on the Milwaukee County buses.

“I never seem to have a normal bus ride,” Corbett said. “There seems to be some sort of commotion, someone not paying or it’s crowded. This hasn’t prevented me from taking the bus if I need to, but I prefer to get a ride from a friend I know rather than take the bus alone.”

Corbett added that he isn’t sure of the bus schedules and was frustrated by lengthy wait times. He also doesn’t like the frequent stops made by some buses every couple of blocks.

“I’ve waited 25 minutes before the bus I need to take actually shows up to my stop,” Corbett said. “Usually, if I’m downtown on Wisconsin (Avenue), I’ll walk back before I take the bus just because it seems quicker.”

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