A typical cab ride from the University of Minnesota campus to downtown Minneapolis can cost as much as $15, but for students who are part of Bus University, $5 will get them to and from campus and admission to a club.
Every Thursday night, a shuttle service runs between the University and downtown from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., and the cost includes entrance into Spin Nightclub and Aqua Nightclub.
Although the service has been running since fall 2008, the group became an official University group March 24. The group does not receive student service fees from the University.
The route was organized and is supervised by University alumnus and former Centennial Hall community adviser Kenny Ronnan, 24, who is not paid for his work.
Ronnan worked out the $5 deal with the owners of the two nightclubs and said he checks identification of each student before he or she gets a wristband. The wristband signifies that a student is at least 18 years old, has paid the entrance fee and can bypass the waiting line to get into the nightclub.
Ronnan said he started the service as a safe way for his residents to explore Minneapolis outside of campus.
“They all go together as a group, and they don’t have to worry about parking downtown or getting a taxi,” Ronnan said. “The city buses aren’t the safest at that time of night either; there are a lot of strange people on the bus.”
Kelsey Dovorany, vice president of the group and University first-year, started riding the group’s shuttle bus this fall for those exact reasons.
“Being from a small town outside of Green Bay, my knowledge of the cities consisted of the fact that they existed and that the Mississippi [River] went through them,” Dovorany said. “It’s a nice way to get introduced to the downtown area without having the hassle of public transportation and getting lost.”
Dovorany met group president Jeremy Reichenberger on the bus, and the two became friends. Both said Ronnan approached them and other frequent riders to become officers of the student group, explaining that it is directly connected to the University.
While the group doesn’t encourage drinking, the officers said the bus offers a safe alternative if students choose to do so, though no drinking is allowed on the bus. Any water bottles that students bring on board are confiscated by Ronnan.
“[My friends and I] definitely pregame before we go out, and I know a lot of people who do the same thing,” Reichenberger said. “But this is a safer way than going on the city bus, and you’re with fellow students.”
If students are obviously intoxicated or out of control, Ronnan said they will be rejected from boarding the bus.
The bus stops in front of Territorial Hall beginning at 10 p.m., but the officers want to attract University students living in the Dinkytown area as well, Dovorany said.
She said that a stop in Dinkytown along Fourth Street Southeast is in the planning stages and would be perfect for older students who are looking for a ride downtown Thursday nights, regardless of whether they’re going to the nightclubs.
“It was a lot more entertaining when I first started going, so I’m not sure if I’ll continue,” Dovorany said. “But I like dancing, and I enjoy just getting out and not caring what I look like.”