For many students, one of the most stressful points in a school day is trying to figure out transportation around campus. Between rainstorms and limited parking in far-off corners of campus, it can be a frustrating endeavor getting around campus.
Now in its second semester of operation, the Cavalier Connection bus service looks to make students’ lives easier when it comes to traveling to, from and around campus.
“I’ve been here, I graduated here, been here a long time, and one of the things that was always complained about was there’s no transportation, there’s no way to get anywhere,” UVa-Wise Strategic Communications Coordinator Mark Dixon said. “Well this is a step in that direction,”
Started this past spring semester, the Cavalier Connection system is run in partnership with Mountain Empire Older Citizens’ MEOC Transit service to provide low-cost transportation for students to and from campus, as well as to places throughout the southwest Virginia region. It costs 50 cents per ride, but Dixon said that through the end of September a promotion makes all rides free around the UVa-Wise campus.
“It is meant to give students affordable transportation to and from places within the community, to and from different locations on campus,” Dixon said. “So it really is just something that we’re trying to put together to benefit our students.”
Cavalier Connection runs from Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but it can also be chartered for trips off campus and outside of normal operating hours. Dixon says students can be taken by the service to places like St. Paul, the Clinch River, Duffield and the Pinnacle in Bristol, Tennessee for a slightly higher cost.
“The further the distance, instead of $0.50 it might be $0.75 to get there or maybe $1, but I don’t believe they go over $1.25 for a trip,” he said. “The further you go, the more it will be, but $1.25 to get to Duffield or Bristol is not bad at all.”
Director of Alumni Relations Beth Boyd says she uses the system almost every morning and afternoon to get to and from work.
“I’ve known about the Cavalier Connection since its inception last year, and I used it several times last year,” Boyd said. “This year I decided that I thought it would be a great thing to do just to ride it back and forth to work. It’s convenient because I can check my emails and manage the social media for the alumni organizations, and really just sit and get quite a bit of work done while I’m riding in to work.”
Donnie Stidham drives the bus four out of the five days a week around campus, and says he hopes that more students will take advantage of this service.
“It’s a great thing and I just hope that the kids really start to latch on to it,” Stidham said. “I know that in the warmer weather it’s going to be hard to get them to ride with the pretty weather and they’d like to walk, but the biggest days (of service) were the two days that it rained. I had 11 (passengers) one day and 12 the next.”
Students wanting to use the Cavalier Connection can flag down the bus around campus, or they can call the service at (276) 523-7433 to schedule a time and place to be picked up. Dixon said that, for trips outside of campus, students must call at least a day in advance to schedule a ride.