Loop Bus gives students safe and fun way to get around city

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It’s 2 a.m., and every bar, club, and restaurant in Pittsburgh is closing its doors. Cue the Loop Bus. Implemented as a trial run last semester, the Loop Bus was one of Carnegie Mellon’s most ingenious ideas.

Running on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to that last 2 a.m. pickup, the Loop Bus takes students back and forth from the University Center turnaround to seven conveniently located Pittsburgh locations, including stops on Fifth and Forbes Avenues, and throughout Station Square and the SouthSide Works. It runs hourly from 7 to 9 and half-hourly from 10:30 to 1:30 from the University Center, is free for all Carnegie Mellon students, and even allows each student one non-student guest.

Its most popular run, no doubt, is that last 2 a.m. pickup throughout the South Side and Station Square. As a late-night rider, you will often see the same exact students that you left on the bus with earlier that evening. The bus is almost always filled to the door with even standing room cramped. Add to this cramped scene the sound of students sporadically singing loudly and in groups and taking bus seat pictures that they will most likely laugh at later. It all makes for an amusing ride, to say the least. The intense concentration of people on the Loop Bus ensures that you will always see someone you know, whether from a different Greek house, student organization, or someone you just had never expected to see.

Each weekend, the Loop Bus has a different most popular location, as its student population makes it a clear reflector of student culture. When the Penguins were fighting for the Stanley Cup, it made its most frequent stops to the sports bars on the SouthSide. At the end of the semester with celebrations of the end of exams, it added the new SouthSide restaurant Hofbrauhaus to its list.

All silliness of the Loop Bus aside, the bus was the brainchild of former student body president and vice president Jared Itkowitz and Pooja Godbole. Its intention was to allow students to explore other Pittsburgh neighborhoods, something it has definitely accomplished as evidenced by the droves of people who ride the bus every weekend night. The bus also succeeded in significantly increasing the safety of students coming back home from a night out on the town. There is no longer a need to assign a designated driver, to get lost on the long walk back, or to wait outside for long periods of time for a taxi to come by. This may mean a decrease in profits for Yellow Cab and DDLimos, but it is definitely a plus for Carnegie Mellon students. The only thing that you need to do is follow the undoubtedly familiar crowds to the nearest corner bus stop and pull out your student ID.

Student government should be applauded for recognizing this student need and allowing students to more easily take a break from campus without any worries of how to get back home. The bus, modeled off Port Authority’s former UV Loop and Duquesne University’s SGA Loop, is likely to become a Carnegie Mellon tradition. Its trial run last spring did not even last two full months. Yet the pictures taken, songs chanted, and unexpected late-night encounters, as well as nights made just that much easier, all because of the Loop Bus, are already treasured by the faction of campus that has experienced its magic.