Students hoping for a cheap ride home at 3 a.m. are getting a little closer.
The Halifax Student Alliance (HSA) is pushing city council to consider extending Metro Transit’s hours in a pilot project. Right now buses end their routes between midnight and 1 a.m., but Mark Coffin, chair of HAS, wants to see service extended to 3-3:30 a.m.
The issue has landed on council’s agenda for tonight.
“We think this would be a big step for the city to take if they want to make community safety a priority,” Coffin said.
A survey they conducted in 2007 showed 45 per cent of students polled were victims of crime and 12 per cent said they were sexually assaulted downtown.
But driver safety and cost are just a few of the issues associated with this idea, said Northwest Arm-South End Councillor Sue Uteck.
“You have taxpayers saying, ‘I’m not spending my tax dollars to bring students home that don’t have $6 in their pockets for a cab.’ But I’m also hearing from parents with a safety issue for the kids,” she said.
“There are a whole host of issues, but definitely I’ll be asking for a staff report.”
Council won’t know just how much this would cost until a report is completed.
“It’s an idea, but I haven’t seen a survey on how many students would actually use the service,” Uteck said.
“Then you have to look at security for the bus drivers — what happens when you have 20 or 30 intoxicated people?”
Not all students riding the bus in the wee hours would be drunk and coming home from the bar, Coffin pointed out. Many students in the health profession work late-night shifts as do other students who work downtown.
“If we need to have security guards on buses running past regular service hours, then that’s what we need to do,” he said.
And the only way to prove its use is to get it going as a test for the next school year, he added.