Proposal could expand UW-Eau Claire bus service

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -Eau Claire Transit has been providing bus service to UW-Eau Claire’s campus since 1997.

The most recent agreement between the two could soon be changing.

Every five years, Eau Claire Transit and the university agree to what bus service for the campus community will look like. That contract is coming up at the end of this school year, but there could be changes coming before then.

During the week, you can find UW-Eau Claire students waiting outside Centennial Hall for a City of Eau Claire Transit bus. In the daytime, those buses arrive about every 10 minutes. Around 4:30 p.m., that changes to once every hour.

“If I have a long day of classes, and I can’t take a break to go back and grab my car, I have to sit here right now an additional hour after my late night meetings, and it’s just time away from being able to go back and do homework and other things, so I really would appreciate more evening routes,” said Laura Pryor, a UWEC student.

To fill this need, the campus’ student senate has been working with Eau Claire Transit.

“They asked what it would cost and asked us to put a proposal together that would meet those-- what they considered to be--demand issues,” said Thomas Wagener, the City of Eau Claire Transit Manager.

That proposal would include another bus serving campus routes in the evening time to cut wait times down to 30 minutes. It would also include buses running to the Pablo Center and extending bus service to Oakwood Mall where the final bus would run at 11 p.m. rather than 6 p.m.

Wagener said that could lead to more students exploring job opportunities at the mall.

“It would make it easier for students to get out to the mall if they were to have a job on a Saturday evening,” Wagener said. “The mall closes around 10 p.m. then they would have a way back from that job if they didn’t have many transportation options.”

For some students at UWEC, they’re not sure what these expanded routes could mean for campus.

“I don’t know if it’s going to have that big of an impact though because Davies, which is where a lot of people study or at least if I’m studying on campus, I’m in Davies, there’s not a lot of people there past 4 p.m., and I’ve been here like 2 years, I guess this is my third year now, so I don’t know if it will have that big of an impact,” said Jonah Banokoro, a UWEC student.

Another UWEC student, Zach Tjugum said: “I definitely think it will help people for the most part, like definitely during the weekdays, there’s definitely some people who have later classes like 6/7 p.m. I know some people who have nighttime classes. I think they should increase it a little bit.”

Before any changes to the current service can happen, it has to be approved by Eau Claire’s city council. The Transit Commission is expected to discuss the proposal at its meeting on Sept. 21. The community is welcome to send it any public comment before that meeting. The commission will then share its recommendation with city council.

If approved by city council, students would likely see more bus service starting sometime in January.

This additional bus service would mean Eau Claire Transit would have to hire one more bus driver.