A Safe Alternative to Drunk Driving

Kyle Florence kflor654@uwsp.edu

The Late-Night Transit service, nicknamed “the drunk bus” due to the typical state of its riders, is a pivotal part of the Stevens Point nightlife.

“There are always good people on the bus, and it’s usually a lot of fun,” said Josh Sawlsville, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “You meet new people all the time, and it definitely beats walking.”

Excluding Wausau, Stevens Point is currently the only city in Central Wisconsin to have its own public transportation system. The Late-Night Service operates Thursday through Saturday from 10:15 p.m. to 3:15 a.m.

Although this service is financed through UWSP student fees, anyone is allowed to use the route at any time, free of charge.

Alex Stauber, a junior at UWSP, also enjoys riding the drunk bus. Aside from an enjoyable ride, Stauber views the late-night service as a welcome alternative to drunk driving.

“It gives you a free ride to get downtown, and you can go have a good time. We don’t really have to worry about getting home then because the bus drops us off right at our place,” Stauber said.

As fun as the drunk bus may be for its riders, it can be a strain on the drivers.

“The hours are harder, and they need to have some special customer service skills, to be sure. Patience is very important,” said Late Night Transit supervisor Bryan Sebree. “Because of the nighttime conditions, there are a lot of bicycles that tend to shoot out in front and skateboarders. They really have to pay a lot of attention while keeping order on the bus.”

A newly hired driver goes through approximately two weeks of training where they learn all the city bus routes, including campus routes.

According to Jeremy Kowalski, a Stevens Point Transit employee who was recently appointed to operate the late shift, captaining the drunk bus is bearable.

“It’s something different, and it helps out the people so you don’t have to drive drunk,” Kowalski said.

Yet, like any other service which caters mainly to individuals who have been consuming alcohol, the drunk bus can become disorderly.

“Me and my friends almost beat up a bunch of Chicago Bears fans one time,” Sawlsville said. “They got kicked off the bus and a bunch of cops came, so that was fun.”

Jason Halambeck, who is also a senior at UWSP, shared a similar experience.

“I remember there was a fight on here one time that got so intense that blood splattered on my pants, so that wasn’t good,” Halambeck said.

Since altercations such as these are minimal, Halambeck continues to ride the drunk bus.

“It’s safer than driving, and it’s a lot of fun,” Halambeck said.

For more information on the Late Night Transit service, visit http:// www.stevenspoint.com/transit.

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