1000 E University Ave
Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2379
Fax: (307) 766-6729
Each school day, Upendra Bom waits for the bus.
He doesn't know which bus will pick him up or who will be driving it. What he does know is that a bus will be there in but a few minutes -- day or night, rain or shine.
"If I wait five or six minutes, I get a bus," says Bom, a graduate student from Nepal who began classes at the University of Wyoming in August. "In Nepal, if you miss one bus, you wait half an hour for the next one and your time is lost."
Since 2008, UW has worked to strengthen its recently rebranded UWYO Roundup transit system to meet the multiplying needs of a growing campus and to continue to relieve parking issues and decrease traffic congestion around the Laramie campus.
In addition to expanded routes and the construction of remote parking lots, UW upgraded its fleet this month with six new buses that replaced rental buses that would often experience problems -- from malfunctioning doors to leaking windows to heating and cooling issues.
The university's new buses, which feature a low-floor design to improve loading times and aid entry, and a "clean diesel" design that eliminates most nitrogen oxide emissions, were purchased through a $1.55 million Federal Transit Administration stimulus grant distributed through the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
"The university's transit system has grown remarkably," says Mark Collins, UW's associate vice president for administration. "Many of the transit recommendations from the 2008 Transportation and Parking Master Plan have been successfully implemented, including the establishment of a partnership with local entities to develop an east-west shuttle route, the formation of a local transportation authority, the construction of remote shuttle lots with express bus service and the utilization of clean vehicle technology.
"The $1.55 million investment in new buses underscores UW's commitment to transit services and the importance of multi-modal transportation options for both UW and the community of Laramie."
Bom isn't the only grateful UW student.
Megan Degenfelder, a senior from Casper and president of the Associated Students of UW, says she regularly hears rave reviews about the university's bus system.
"The transportation system is extremely important to students, especially since a number of students live off campus and need efficient transportation to campus without the hassle of parking," says Degenfelder. "It's easy, more sustainable and more affordable."
SafeRide, a free public service that transports UW students to the grocery store, the Laramie Recreation Center or elsewhere on an on-call basis, is another tremendous benefit.
"It's especially good for those long trips to Wal-Mart for groceries," Degenfelder says.
The newly purchased buses will likely help make UWYO Roundup more popular than ever. Already, the UW transit system shuttles approximately 620,000 riders annually.
"This has been a long time in the making and we're excited to have these new buses to provide more efficient, dependable and comfortable service to our passengers," says Paul Kunkel, manager of UW Transit and Parking Services. "The rental buses we were using, some of them were coming up on 10 years of age and had 200,000 or 300,000 miles on them.
"Our mechanics stayed very busy with those buses. They were fixing doors, they were fixing leaks. You name it, they were fixing it."
The doors typically caused the greatest problems and were so unpredictable that UW mechanics sometimes rode on problematic buses during the day "waiting for the doors to malfunction so they could fix them," Kunkel says.
"I remember a few times when the door didn't open," recalls Roselle Anthony, an agriculture education junior from Texas. "But they always had somebody riding with you to open it."
On a recent stop at the Wyoming Union, George Love, one of the university's bus drivers, pulls a lever and watches the doors slide open with ease.
"These work a lot better," he says with a chuckle.
A student steps aboard a moment later, greets Love and takes a few steps before stopping in the aisle.
"Hey, you guys got new buses!" he says.
"Yep," Love responds. "Brand new."
As another passenger boards, Love says, "Welcome to the new bus!"
"It smells like a new bus," she says.
The new-car smell isn't the only giveaway. The seating arrangement, with all seats on the perimeter and standing room in the middle, is unique to the six new buses.
"There's still plenty of room to carry our passengers but, hopefully, in a more comfortable manner," says Kunkel. "You're not going to have to scrunch between two rows of seats."
Or wait for the doors to open.
With a smile, Kunkel says, "Just having buses with operational doors is a big plus for us."
Bom doesn't care so much whether it's one of the new bus or an older bus that stops to pick him up. He's simply thankful for a service that he calls "very valuable" and "better than I expected."
"As a graduate student, in an entirely new environment, without a car or a bicycle, the UW transportation is the only means of transportation for me to reach university and my apartment," he says. "Without it, my daily schedule would be so miserable that I cannot imagine."
To learn more about the UW transit system, go to www.uwyo.edu/roundup.