The New Paltz LOOP Bus has added weekend service to its weekly schedule.
The change was instituted Saturday, Aug. 30. The Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT) LOOP Bus will now run additionally on weekends from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The LOOP Bus stops around key locations on-campus and the village. The new weekend route will be slightly shorter than it is on weekdays, concentrating on service within the village.
The weekend service is a result of a recent agreement between Ulster County, SUNY New Paltz and SUNY New Paltz’s Student Association (SA).
A press conference was held on Wednesday, Aug. 27, in the Haggerty Administration Building Circle Parking Lot, to officially launch the new service propagated by the SUNY New Paltz Student Association. SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian, students, staff, members of the local New Paltz community, town supervisor Susan Zimet and representatives from Ulster County were on-hand for the launch of the new service.
Christian opened up the press conference and addressed the crowd, saying the UCAT is a significant asset for the county and the college community of New Paltz, providing a convenient public transit option for getting to local shops from campus throughout the year.
“Our Student Association recognized the value of this service in work with officials from Ulster County, the town, the village of New Paltz, SUNY New Paltz Administration and New Paltz’s Transportation Implementation Committee to provide LOOP service on the weekends, when students are more likely to have more time to make use of this service,” he said.
New Paltz Student Association President Osato Okundaye also spoke at the conference. He said a poll conducted by the student senate showed that students showed an increased desire for public transportation on the weekends. After the student activity fee increase referendum passed to raise fees $5 per semester, from $100 to $105, the SA felt that excess funds should go towards extending the New Paltz LOOP services for weekends.
“With the new additional weekend service, students will now have the opportunity to get their essentials during times of greater convenience,” Okundaye said. “In its service to students, we hope that the LOOP service serves the environment as well by reducing the street traffic over the weekends.”
SUNY New Paltz pays for fuel for the bus, which means that faculty and staff with IDs can ride for free. The SA pays all student fares so students can ride free on the LOOP bus as well.
Second-year digital management major Ryan Percy said he is looking forward to the new weekend service.
“I believe it will help me a great deal as the semester edges toward the winter,” he said. “Often times travel during the weekends to places such as Shop Rite or the movie theater becomes difficult without transportation, especially with groceries.”
Chair of the New Paltz Transportation Implementation Committee (TIC), Gail K. Gallerie said during the academic year, almost 3,000 students a month ride the LOOP as well as about 1,600 non-student members of the community, who benefit from a subsidy that is provided by the town and the village.
Gallerie said the reduction of individual vehicle traffic was one of the things that made the TIC emphasize the value of mass transit after a three-year study.
In addition, Gallerie said there are many people in town who either do not have a car, or who wish for environmental reasons to avoid using their cars. These are people who are doing their shopping, making their doctors appointments and more without having to use cars or call a cab.
Christian said to look out for more additional service changes to the New Paltz LOOP Bus in the future, which includes a possibility of a service that travels up to Mohonk Preserve.
Christian said SUNY New Paltz’s contribution to the service in 2012-13 was about $19,000, and will increase with the start of this weekend’s service.
In addition to its added service, the LOOP Bus sports a new appearance as well. An advertisement for SUNY New Paltz depicting the Student Union illuminated at night now adorns the sides of the bus.
“While the LOOP is making its way around town, we hope people will notice the eye-catching advertisements on both sides of the bus, as we publicize the college to the local community and our visitors,” Christian said.