Starting this weekend, University of Minnesota-Morris students will be able to bus to the Twin Cities for the weekend.
The Morris campus’ contract with Ottertail Minn-Dakota Coaches begins today, taking students from Morris to the Twin Cities over the weekend for a round-trip price of $30.
The bus will leave the Morris campus at 6:15 p.m. Friday and arrive at the Maple Grove Transit Center at 8:45 p.m. From there, students can take several transit buses to get to Minneapolis or St. Paul, Doug Williams , a Morris senior said.
Williams was running for re-election as Morris’ campus assembly and his friend Patrick Chester for student association president when Williams decided to bring up the idea for a bus that would run to the Twin Cities.
“A lot of students say Morris is isolated and far from shopping centers and music activity,” Williams said. “So we figured, ‘Hey, this would be a good idea to get people feeling that we aren’t just some college in the middle of nowhere.’ ”
Students want to go to the Twin Cities to see concerts, go to the Mall of America and visit home, Williams said.
After Chester was elected president of the student association, the two immediately set out to make the bus happen, Williams said.
Williams said a major benefit of the bus is less wear and tear on cars.
“It also fits in with Morris’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2010,” he said.
According to the University of Minnesota-Morris website, the campus plans to be carbon neutral by 2010 through on-site generation of the campus’ electric and thermal needs and using renewable, sustainable and local recourses.
But Williams said reducing the number of cars on the road also will help the University reach its goals.
Chester, president of the student association, also said the bus will help unclog students’ inboxes.
Students who needed rides would send out mass e-mails over the Morris webmail, he said.
“Pretty much everyone’s e-mail box was filled with spam mail,” he said. “It was a fairly rotten situation overall.”
Chester also said he hopes that the availability of the bus will increase admissions at Morris and make its current students happy.
“I know several students who left because they simply miss home,” he said. “It’s a serious problem.”
PaHoua Vang, a psychology first-year at Morris , is one student using the bus to get home.
“Driving back and forth from the cities is going to be double the cost of the bus,” she said.
Vang, who is from Forest Lake, hasn’t been home yet this semester and plans on using the bus to get closer to home.
“If my parents drove to Morris to pick me up it would take them a whole day — six hours there and six hours back,” she said.
Jesse Pollock-Foote, a senior studying psychology on the Twin Cities campus , transferred from Morris because he wasn’t close to centers for theater and dance, he said.
“I definitely would have used the bus when I was in Morris because it is great to get off of campus and see the city,” he said. “I think Morris students should use the bus to explore the cities.”
Other colleges offer weekend bus services to and from the Twin Cities, including St. Olaf College in Northfield, and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Through Jefferson Bus Lines, Duluth students can take the Movie Express Bus to the Twin Cities over the weekend, stopping at Coffman Union, for a round trip price of $56.
Wendy Cybaluk, director of marketing at Jefferson Bus Lines, said about 65 students take round trips from Duluth to the Twin Cities every weekend.