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Duke begins buses to Durham night spots

In response to the growing trend of student social events moving off campus, the University will begin providing bus service tonight to local Durham sites.

The approximately 25-minute route will begin on West Campus, make stops at Anderson Street, Cafe Parizade, Ninth Street, East Campus, Brightleaf Square, East Campus by request and Alexander Street, and then return to West.

The first bus will leave West beginning at 8:12 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, and continue every half hour until 2:42 a.m. From West, the ride will take five minutes to Cafe Parizade, eight minutes to Ninth Street and 16 minutes to Brightleaf Square.

"Our main goal is to try to limit drunk driving," said junior Joshua Jean-Baptiste, Duke Student Government vice president for student affairs. Jean-Baptiste and DSG Chief of Staff Evan Davis are spearheading the student initiative, which will run on a pilot basis for the rest of the semester.

"This is also the first step in a long-term attempt to make Durham more of a college town," Jean-Baptiste said.

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said the bus will provide safe transportation and greater access to local restaurants, clubs and bars. Off-campus locations have become popular among students in the past year with the arrival of establishments like The Edge and Mugshots, and the absence of the Hideaway bar on campus.

"Nationally, we have students who are more cosmopolitan in their experience," Moneta said. "They're going abroad and have become enamored with the cities in which they visit."

At the University of Pennsylvania, where Moneta was associate vice president for campus services before coming to Duke, most of the social scene is at student group-sponsored events at bars and clubs in downtown Philadelphia.

Moneta said the bus plan was influenced by the example of how well Penn students take advantage of the city, but noted that the initiative was a joint effort with student leaders.

Student Affairs will fund the buses, which will cost $1,100 per weekend, according to David Majestic, director of planning for auxiliary services. The schedule and number of buses are subject to change.

Majestic added that such a system has been tried before, but to limited success. "Three years ago, ridership was minimal," he said.

"It started off very crowded, but then it dwindled off. This is a little more direct; hopefully that will make a difference."

Jean-Baptiste and Davis, also a senior associate sports editor for The Chronicle, said they hope student-based publicity for the service will make the bus popular. Student Affairs will run an advertisement every Friday in The Chronicle, listing student organizations that are hosting off-campus events.

The publicity will be free for groups, as long as their events are open to all students.

"The advertisement is really for any group: fraternities, sororities, cultural groups, club sports, the senior class. It really doesn't matter," Davis said.

He added that he has already contacted leaders of some student groups to inform them of the opportunity.

Both Davis and Jean-Baptiste said they felt the migration off-campus was unfortunate and they would prefer the social climate that existed when they enrolled at Duke three years ago.

"But as student leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that we can create a social scene for students that is as safe as possible," Jean-Baptiste said.

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