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UB 'drunk bus' restarts without warning, residents complain

University at Buffalo File Photo

With no notice to most of the interested parties, the University at Buffalo re-started late night student bus service Friday night - and annoyed a lot of people in University Heights.

Student bad behavior in University Heights has been a problem for years, despite efforts to crack down on the students involved and the landlords who rent houses that wind up being used for raucous parties. One major landlord is in the midst of selling all of his property.

"There's a couple of them on the radar that are just kind of disregarding," said University Heights Collaborative President Mickey Vertino. "There's one house on West Northrup that's had multiple arrests. I think I've even had some of the students that were disciplined for community service last weekend and yet they continued it again this weekend. Like, they're just not getting it and they're getting themselves arrest records and discipline from the school. So we're going to keep on it. That house is on the radar."

This time, a small version of what residents have called the "drunk bus" was started up and used, although students may not have had enough notice to set up big parties. UB's website says "service will now run seven days a week, every 30 minutes and will be used to transport students who need to travel between campuses for work and study."

Vertino said there was just no notice of the bus service re-starting.

"Everybody was surprised. I talked to the councilman. I talked to even the student who was discussing it with the transportation people. I talked to some other UB officials. I talked to Chief Menza. None of us were notified," Vertino said. "That's a concern. Probably the bigger concern we have is, this isn't the way to do things. We're all supposed to have a seat at the table. Everybody was impacted on this. We were all willing to negotiate and discuss it and things were working."

That is why there will be a meeting later this week of all the players involved around a table, including UB, to talk about whether even the small bus used over the weekend is a good idea.

Vertino said there already are signs of a few houses that are turning into the kind of behavior problems University Heights wishes would go away. He said it was agreed that doing away with the bus would ease the intense student partying, which has roiled the community for years.

"When we discussed it with Chief Menza last week, with the students, at the E District meeting, he said he would consider tweaking it, as long as it stays manageable and we're addressing safety issues, which is part of the manageability," Vertino said. "He's in charge of public safety out there and it's been working. It's better, so we want to keep it that way."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.