Bengal Bus on the Prowl for Fresh Prey

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Author: Leanne Zabala

At the end of February, the Bengal Bus will be implementing ideas designed to improve service. The plans that are being considered include creating a cell phone with a consistent number that students can call, increasing the number of drivers, and working to improve communication between students and drivers.

The Bengal Bus is a student-run organization that has been running at Oxy on and off for a few years now. “It was around 2005-2006 when [the Bengal Bus service] really got going again. We don’t have a record of when [the service itself] got started,” Bengal Bus co-manager Rainey Banick (junior) said. “The Bengal Bus has been around for a while, but I think it’s been a more recent development as a student service.”

The Bengal Bus picks up students at the fountain every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6-9 p.m. in fifteen to twenty minute intervals. The bus takes students to locations close by, such as Eagle Rock and Old Town Pasadena.

“[The Bengal Bus] is a fairly popular service, in that there is a good amount of students on campus who don’t have cars, or don’t have access to cars. The Bengal Bus is also free,” Bengal Bus co-manager Deylin Thrift-Viveros (junior) said.

“I don’t have a car or a license, so I have to use the Bengal Bus,” Irene Kim (first-year) said.

Despite its use for some students, however, the Bengal Bus service is sometimes the subject of criticism. “I got stranded in Target for two hours,” Marisa Moncrieffe (first-year) said. “I remember because people laughed as us.”

In response to several complaints about the Bengal Bus and its service, Banick replied that since there is only one bus operating for the whole night, it is often difficult to ensure that the bus will get to the student within fifteen minutes.

To address this, they are planning on having a cell phone with a consistent number, that the driver on duty that night will carry. “Students can call and we can update [them] with the status [of the bus],” said Banick. “But the driver won’t use the phone whilst driving as it is illegal,” Thrift-Viverso said.

Banick added that the Bengal Bus is also willing to increase its number of drivers. “We’d be enthusiastic to [add drivers],” she said. Banick also added that she was hoping to have eight or nine drivers by the end of next week, to increase the Bengal Bus’s ability to go to different locations.

“If there is a big trip, we are willing to have more drivers. If other people notice that there is a need for more drivers, that’s also something we will take into consideration,” Banick said.

Another idea brought forward is of a frequent rider card. “[It is designed to] encourage ridership throughout the semester,” Banick said. After riding a certain number of times, the student would be rewarded with a gift card.

Both Banick and Thrift-Viverso are working to encourage communication between the Bengal Bus and student riders. “To make [the Bengal Bus] more useful, we need more input from riders, because we’re only two people,” said Banick, adding that “we take criticisms too. [Students] are always welcome to leave a note in the Bengal bus box in the SAC, or through e-mail.”

“Hopefully by the end of February we’ll have a stronger, more efficient Bengal Bus service,” Banick said. “We’re also trying to plan things, like night activities, and getting people to Hollywood and different locations.”

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