Parents petition ESCAPE bus company for additional bus stop in mid-Hudson Valley

Binghamton University parents have created a petition to the ESCAPE Bus Company, a student-run charter bus service for BU students going home for holiday breaks, to include a new mid-Hudson Valley stop to its regularly scheduled route.

ESCAPE, which embarks from Lot E near the East Gym, allows students to leave for breaks straight from campus. According to the ESCAPE constitution, the purpose of the bus company is to provide transportation for students and members of the University community while also seeking to establish a travel center on campus with competitive prices for riders.

ESCAPE, which currently offers bus rides to the New York City and Long Island areas, has no stops or bus routes running to the mid-Hudson Valley region. Instead, students from the Hudson Valley must either drive or carpool home, or take commercial bus lines such as Shortline and Greyhound from the Greater Binghamton Transportation Center. The closest stop that ESCAPE offers to the mid-Hudson Valley is Westchester, which excludes other populous counties in the region.

An estimated 3,000 students at BU come from the mid-Hudson Valley. As a result, the region was the fourth-largest student population at the University from New York state, behind the Southern New York area, which includes Westchester and Rockland counties, New York City and Long Island.

Marla Schwoerer, the BU parent who started the petition for a mid-Hudson Valley stop, said she views the ESCAPE service as a convenient and safe way of transporting students home for the holiday breaks. However, for her and many other parents in the mid-Hudson Valley, students must resort to Shortline and Greyhound for a ride home, resulting in multiple transfers and inconvenient pickup locations.

“However much I appreciate that commercial lines do service BU students, the rides to the mid-Hudson Valley often require three or more transfers and easily take upward of four hours, double the time it would take a chartered bus,” Schwoerer said. “I spoke with some other parents from the area, and we agreed that it would be great to have the mid-Hudson Valley served by ESCAPE.”

Schwoerer became involved with the ESCAPE bus line after her daughter had problems with the Shortline and Greyhound lines. As a result, Schwoerer organized other parents in the mid-Hudson Valley on Facebook to begin the petition.

“We are not requesting an entire bus to go to the mid-Hudson Valley,” Schwoerer said. “We just want a singular, safe stop along the way to drop off and pick up students.”

Elizabeth Schwoerer, an undeclared freshman, said she supports her mother’s decision to start the petition for a new mid-Hudson Valley stop. Previously, she rode on a Greyhound bus that traveled to Albany before heading downstate. Elizabeth said she had also ridden on a Shortline bus, which was faster than the Greyhound, but only operated once a day at 6:30 a.m.

“I know a lot of people from the mid-Hudson Valley who go to BU,” Elizabeth said. “I think adding the stop would make traveling home a lot easier for me and others.”

ESCAPE organizes and schedules routes a month prior to an upcoming break, selecting stops based on high demand from Facebook polls. According to the company, new stops are possible if they meet demand, but for the mid-Hudson Valley area, a new bus route would have to be added.

When organizing routes, a constant demand must be met with around 80 to 100 students consistently buying tickets in order to add the stop. In this case, ESCAPE would have to hire more employees while remaining under budget to meet demand.

Although a mid-Hudson Valley route is possible, the company’s Facebook poll for adding the stop did not meet the demand required for this year. ESCAPE plans on holding a similar poll for the 2019-20 academic year.

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