By Cameron Cable
Many new students who come to HSU, especially those from larger cities, wonder why the bus lines in Arcata close so early. Those who are of age and inclination to consume alcoholic beverages wonder even more. In Arcata the bus lines all close by 10 p.m. However, most bar patrons don’t conclude their patronizing until well after this. This inevitably leads to some people driving home drunk.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes is about four times higher at night than it is during the day. Yet during these hours, there are no public transit options. Could later running buses provide an alternative to drunk driving?
U.C. Santa Cruz is an example of a school connected to a later running bus system. The buses there run until midnight, and on occasions even later. Steven Poanessa, a former student at U.C.S.C., made good use of this service.
““Hell yeah, having the buses running late was awesome. Drunk driving became kind of a joke with my friends because, like, you know, why bother? There’s a sober driver right there who drives students for free,” he said.
However, implementing such a system in Arcata would prove complicated. The town is so small that many people simply walk, reducing the number of possible customers. Another issue found in extending the bus hours comes from the customers themselves. Larry Pardi, transit superintendent for Arcata and Mad River, said that the idea has been tried before.
“It’s a huge hassle,” Pardi said. “[Drunk] People throw up, they get in fights, that all needs to be cleaned by the next day.”
Pardi also said that in reality the bus hours have already been extended, and that HSU footed the bill. The original schedule concluded at 7 p.m. He maintains that Redwood Transit Authority is not against lengthening the bus hours or catering to bar customers, however it will be up to an entity such as HSU to fund such a service.
A major problem with preventing drunk driving is the drivers themselves. Regardless of what services are provided DUIs will still occur.
Though you probably won’t be taking a late bus home from the bars anytime soon, taxi cab services have stepped up to fill the void by sending more and more cabs to the area, Pardi said.