Takin’ the TANK

Northern Kentucky University and TANK have collaborated in two instances: setting up a temporary shuttle service from Lakeside to campus, which was discontinued Sept. 13, and developing the U-Pass program, which provides NKU students, faculty and staff with free transportation on all TANK routes.

Harold Todd, director of public safety, said the shuttle was very successful. Between 45 and 70 cars parked at Lakeside each day the first three weeks of the semester.

During August alone, there were more than 1,200 U-Pass trips on the shuttle.

Todd said there weren’t enough parking spots on campus the first few weeks of class, and the shuttle helped because people didn’t have time to fight traffic.

Later, Todd drove on campus and realized there would be space for fewer than 50 cars at Lakeside.

According to Todd, the shuttle costs approximately $600 a day, and could not continue because of the high expense. He said there is adequate parking on campus, though students sometimes feel it’s not as convenient as they would like. Todd added that he hopes students will not need the shuttle in the next three to four years since the parking garage, set to be finished by next fall, will have about 700 spots.

The U-Pass program was implemented in July and costs the university $25,000 for the first year, allowing all students, faculty and staff to ride free of charge.

During July, about 1,400 U-Pass trips were made. During August, the ridership estimate was more than 6,200 U-Pass trips on the regular TANK routes.

Todd said he thinks the U-Pass is going well. “Anytime we can get people to use U-Pass, we’re ahead of the game,” he said.

TANK seems to be happy with the U-Pass program as well. Andrew Aiello, TANK’s deputy general manager said, from TANK’s perspective, these numbers are excellent, adding, that they anticipate the numbers or regular U-Pass trips will climb again in September.

Aiello said the program encourages students to take advantage of an efficient, environmentally friendly travel service.

Adjustments to TANK’s bus schedule are expected in January to coincide with NKU class schedules.

Currently the bus route is mainly north-to-south, with No. 11 and No. 25 buses getting the most use by members of NKU.

Aiello said there is a plan to create hubs that can travel east-to-west as well. One hub is under construction at Highland Pike and KY 17, which is expected to open in January.

Another hub is expected to open in 2009 in Florence near the mall. Other long-term plans include new hubs at the CVG Airport and at NKU.

TANK buses make stops in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties, as well as downtown Cincinnati.

Donny Stenke, a sophomore with a major in anthropology, rides the bus to class everyday. Stenke lives in Fort Thomas, which takes between 15 and 20 minutes to get to campus. Stenke doesn’t have a car, but said he’d ride the bus even if he did.

Stenke said TANK has a good service, but has a hard time getting a ride back to his house late at night. He said he has to call a friend for a ride about once a week.