Locals want River Run

Local business owners and NKU Student Government Association President, Katie Herschede, said they would like to see the reinstatement of TANK’s NKU River Run, which was cancelled at the end of the Spring 2002 semester, only four months after its establishment.

Members of the SGA helped establish the NKU River Run to better utilize Northern Kentucky’s public transportation and to provide entertainment, employment and cultural opportunities to a “critical mass” of students and faculty at NKU, according to Herschede.

Herschede said the SGA wanted to provide students with a safe, direct and convenient route of public transportation after they’ve been at work or visiting the entertainment districts in Newport or Covington. “We wanted to make sure that [students] could have opportunities for work, for safety instead of driving back and forth late at night.”

The NKU River Run, which began running in Jan. 2002, ran every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. and cost $1. Buses picked up passengers at NKU and took them to Newport on the Levee, Covington Landing, the Covington Waterfront and MainStrausse Village in Covington.

Low numbers of riders combined with a budget cut at TANK resulted in the discontinuation of the River Run, according to Barb Schneider, TANK’s Marketing Coordinator.

“It’s a shame,” she said, “but when ridership is down and you have to make some budget cuts…those are the things that have to go.”

Herschede said the expansion of the dorms to house 1,400 students will increase the need for a transportation service like the NKU River Run.

“We feel that the growing residential population [at NKU] brings an even larger critical mass to our on-campus population,” she said. “I would definitely like to see [the NKU River Run] brought back up when we’re in some more robust economic times.”

Herschede added that other Universities have had success with similar programs and said NKU could have similar success in the future with a better publicized reinstatement of the River Run. Herschede has maintained contact with TANK and said she hopes they still have an interest in the NKU River Run.

“The ridership wasn’t as high as we would have liked to have seen it,” Herschede said. She attributes the low number of riders to the fact that the River Run began at the beginning of the spring semester, leaving SGA with little time to publicize it due to winter break.

“It started in January so we didn’t have much lead time on it,” she said. “I think a lot of people knew about it, but by January students are set in their ways and it’s really difficult to change those habits in people.”

Whatever the reasons for the NKU River Run’s discontinuation, businesses don’t like it either. Kylee Kingsley, the general manager of Empire, a dance club at Newport on the Levee, said he would also like to see the NKU River Run brought back into service.

“Do I like it as a business operator? No,” Kingsley said of the cancellation of the River Run. “With the limited situation that we have as far as parking here, we need anything and everything to draw people closer to us. Any type of public transportation is always better.”

Bruce Worth, the general manager of Gameworks at Newport on the Levee, said he would like to see the NKU River Run reinstated also. He said a service like the River Run would make it more convenient for people to get to Newport on the Levee.

“Our hats go off to the people at TANK,” Herschede said. “They did a great job. It was a wonderful partnership and we hope we can revive that partnership in the future.”

For now, those seeking public transportation to Newport or Covington will have to rely on TANK’s regular bus service. Schneider said that TANK’s number 25 bus and the number 11 (Fort Thomas) bus both pick up passengers at NKU and will take them to Newport and Cincinnati. However, these buses only run until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights and until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. So those wishing to stay out late and have a ride home will have to call a cab or a friend.