Beginning Oct. 15, Off Campus College Transport (OCCT) weekend Late Nite Service will be suspended until further notice.
On Oct. 12, OCCT announced the suspension of bus runs that leave the University Union and Downtown Binghamton past 12:05 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. OCCT and the Student Association (SA) attributed the decision to the mistreatment of employees and buses from passengers, including mask noncompliance, verbal assaults and thrown objects.
OCCT had previously warned students of the potential suspension of Late Nite Service in August, should the mistreatment of employees and property continue to occur.
Jake Abrams, ‘20, public relations coordinator for OCCT, described the suspension as an issue of safety.
“As the mask noncompliance and mistreatment of OCCT employees and properties continues to occur, the suspension was enacted in an attempt to keep our drivers safe and healthy and to keep their frontline work appreciated and valued,” Abrams wrote in an email. “We remain committed to promoting the levels of respect our drivers deserve as we pledge to minimize their potential COVID-19 exposure.”
Abrams reminded students that while OCCT is “honored” to provide Late Nite Service to BU students, the service is a courtesy, and the situation needs to improve before it is offered again.
David Hatami, SA president, CEO of OCCT and a senior double-majoring in political science and business administration, said the suspension came after repeated attempts to quell student misbehavior.
“We’ve been monitoring the situation for a few weeks now and have conducted outreach to urge students to behave on buses,” Hatami wrote in an email. “Despite our efforts, we continue to see student behavior which risks danger for riders and drivers alike. The safety and security of BU students remains our top priority; and if those cannot be guaranteed, it’s hard to justify keeping Late [Nite] routes open.”
According to the OCCT website, a temporary “probationary” Late Nite weekend route will run when OCCT is assured of the well-being of its staff. Hatami said the service could begin as early as next week, should student behavior improve.
Some students described witnessing the “unruly behaviour” cited by OCCT. Ben Keurian, a senior majoring in computer science, described a scene returning from downtown.
“I’ve definitely seen some people who have been extremely disrespectful to bus drivers,” Keurian said. “Sometimes I see on State Street, it’s almost like a ‘World War Z’ type situation. When the bus is stopping, people will be jumping on the bus and the bus just can’t stop, people won’t follow rules.’’
Keurian said it would now be a pain to return home, with options limited to Ubers and other costly means of transport.
Sade Salazar is president of Off Campus College Council (OC3) and a senior triple-majoring in philosophy, politics and law, economics and accounting. Salazar said she acknowledged the effect the suspension may have on students attending to return home, including from work, but said the decision was appropriate.
“Late Nite Service is deemed one of the most challenging shifts by most student drivers,” Salazar wrote in an email. “In the past, it has been inebriated students vomiting on the bus. Now it’s also mask noncompliance and mistreating the drivers and buses. If there is anyone to be disappointed with, it’s the unruly riders as they have caused OCCT to take this drastic action.”
OC3 sent out a presidential statement to students’ emails on Wednesday afternoon, condemning behavior of “drunken rowdiness” on buses, shortly after a similar email was sent out by the SA. OC3 called upon students to report instances of abuse when they see them.
“Now we have a chance as off-campus students to show that we are ready to retake the responsibilities we did before lockdowns,” the statement read. “To show that we are a community that values time and sacrifice. There is no doubt that this is likely a small subset of repeat offenders, but they are offenders nonetheless.”
Hatami said Late Nite routes can be brought back indefinitely only when the OCCT team is confident in the safety and well-being of all onboard — which begins with respect.
“Students should be keen to remember that OCCT drivers are students too,” Hatami wrote. “They, just like you, are dealing with work, extracurriculars and an upcoming exam. If more students were willing to simply respect one another, I think we would be able to solve a lot more issues present on our campus than just this.”