For two weekends straight, Off Campus College Transport’s (OCCT) Late Nite service has been canceled.
Late Nite bus routes run to and from campus on Friday and Saturday nights — frequently used by students to return from Downtown Binghamton or the West Side. But on Sept. 9, the first night of the LUMA festival, the service was suspended after students forced open closed doors on an OCCT bus.
The following weekend, the service remained suspended. According to Daniel Croce — OCCT’s chief financial officer, vice president for finance of the Student Association (SA) and a junior majoring in business administration — one of the buses had been taken out of service following damage caused by “several passengers.”
“The disorderly conduct of numerous passengers placed the drivers and all other passengers at a potential for great risk,” Croce wrote in an email. “This past weekend was suspended as a result of the necessity to prevent such actions from occurring again. We are actively working (and almost complete) with developing safeguards for both drivers and passengers.”
Croce said the damage has since been repaired, but the SA is working on more long-term safety measures. In a statement on Instagram, the SA warned of the potential permanent suspension of Late Nite runs, and said the service will be reinstated following the approval of new policies.
This will include new punitive measures against disorderly passengers, according to Croce.
“More specifically, going forward any student acting in any form of disorderly conduct on OCCT buses will face student misconduct charges and will be possibly banned from bus use,” Croce wrote. “All appropriate legal or University officials will be called to assist in any sort of similar situation.”
The service had previously been suspended last year, for two weeks in mid-October, after mask noncompliance and verbal and physical abuse from riders. Later, the bus routes resumed as a “probationary” service for the remainder of the semester.
Antoinette Stefanakos, OCCT’s public relations coordinator, suggested that the situation has not improved.
“The issues regarding passenger noncompliance have always existed to some degree, and the removal of the mask policy did not change these issues,” Stefanakos wrote in an email.
Despite the safety concerns, some students who rely on the service said they found the suspension to be inconvenient. OCCT remains among the most accessible transportation options for students — with its costs included in the transportation fee billed to graduate and undergraduate students.
Leo Cohen, a senior majoring in political science, uses OCCT buses to travel to and from campus and the West Side daily. Cohen described the bus service as a “privilege” because it makes travel substantially more convenient, especially for students and faculty who do not own cars.
“It’s unfortunate and disturbing that a handful of patrons have been unable to follow the OCCT guidelines and have abused this privilege,” Cohen said. “As a result, a large number of rule-abiding students and other riders, including myself, are forced to make concessions to travel to and from campus due to the suspension of [Late Nite] OCCT bus services. This suspension is perfectly justifiable yet disappointing.”
Nico De Vita, a junior majoring in business administration, said students should respect the service — and those who rely on it.
“There is no excuse for anyone to assault a student driver on a free transportation shuttle that brings every student who lives on campus safely back to their dorms,” De Vita said. “Not only is it unacceptable, but it’s a selfish, demeaning act that leaves other students stranded and forced to spend their money on a car service, rather than ride on the bus for free.”
Stefanakos and Croce stressed that it is not safe to continue the service until new procedures are in place. Until then, Croce suggested students consider using taxis, rideshare services or designated drivers.
“We are working diligently on long-term solutions and they are in sight,” Croce said. “I understand that for the majority of students, Late Nite being canceled can be an inconvenience to a great free service. However, the current form of Late Nite is not safe for anyone. Safety is my number one priority for everyone.”