Lately, the hottest thing to do on campus Saturday nights is actually boarding a bus that takes students off campus.
Students are flocking to hop onto the Tiger East End Express at one of eight on-campus stops, and less than one-half hour later, they arrive at the corner of Pitkin Street and East Avenue. As the “tigers” file out, they disperse onto the sidewalks and into the East End’s various nightclubs for some fun in the city.
“I had to try out the bus, and let me tell you, I had a ball,” remarks Mary-Beth Cooper, RIT’s senior vice president of student affairs. “The energy on the bus was amazing—it made me wish I was a college student again.”
Since Jan. 14, RIT students have been using the “free ride,” a Regional Transit Service bus, to connect with the East End of Rochester from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. The bus, spearheaded by RIT’s Student Government, is a trial run to test the tentative schedule and popularity. With between 100 and 250 riders on Saturday nights, the bus has proven popular among students.
“The end goal is to have a full-time route for the whole weekend,” says Greg Pollock, RIT Student Government president. “It could even be something that starts on Thursday afternoons.”
A proposed schedule for this fall features a bus that starts around noon on Saturday. The bus would run until around 7 p.m., break for two hours and continue from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“An afternoon bus will add a huge list of attractions, including the Eastman House, coffee shops, The Strong’s National Museum of Play, restaurants, the Rochester Contemporary Art Center and the Little Theatre,” says Pollock.
David Perlman, an RIT professor emeritus who produces the Performing Artists Concert Series, notes that the afternoon bus times would be a great resource for music lovers.
“Between the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Eastman Theatre, there are almost always great performances in the East End at 8 p.m. on Saturday nights,” Perlman says. “Oftentimes at the RPO they have rush seats the day of the performance that are cheaper and would be great for students.”
The RIT/East End connection will evolve as it expands into a weekend-long service. Student Government encourages feedback at www.rit.edu/sg.
“I think it’s perfect for students who want to get off campus and see all the things that downtown Rochester has to offer,” Cooper says.