Officials say ‘no go’ to proposed buses


Students board a shuttle bus in Harrison Plaza on campus.

The decision to purchase two new 44-passenger buses for the university has changed. The university is not currently seeking the purchase of the two buses after it was decided the buses were not what was best for the UNA community.

The Strategic Planning and Budget Study Committee approved the request to purchase the two new buses Oct. 12, 2011. However, at the committee meeting Dec. 14, 2011, Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields reported that officials decided to postpone the purchase.

“As the university expands, there is a greater need for buses and transportation for over-the-road trips for all student groups, not just the athletics department,” Shields said.

The buses being considered would not meet the needs of the athletic teams, and currently there is not enough need outside of athletics to make a purchase, Shields told the committee members.

“One of the reasons we chose not to go ahead with the purchase of the new buses was that there would be no bathrooms on board for the athletic teams,” Shields said. “Overall, the potential buses just weren’t going to work.”

Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Steven Smith also said the potential buses would not be a good fit for the university.

“At this point, we’re just looking,” Smith said. “We’re studying the situation closer to see which specific groups would use the buses and if there is enough demand for them.”

The university is looking for buses that are designed for over-the-road trips, as well as buses that complement the university’s current set of shuttle buses, Shields said.

“The current shuttle buses are not comfortable for longer trips, especially for athletic teams,” Shields said. “We’re continuing to look at buses that would serve all of our purposes.”

The university currently owns 10 shuttle buses for use on campus and in the surrounding community. Eight of these buses are used in the day-to-day operations of the university. The shuttle buses are not unsafe, but they are not built for longer trips, Shields said.

“One of our biggest concerns is if an athletic team or student group takes one or two of our shuttle buses on an over-the-road trip, it has the potential to break down,” Shields said. “If two of our buses break down, we have to use two more to go pick students up. At that point, we are down four buses and cannot properly maintain our shuttle service on campus.”