Unitrans’ new O-line bus hit the Davis streets for the first time last Saturday.
Serving both students and shoppers, the new Saturday route begins at Cuarto housing area and continues past the University Mall, through the Silo terminal on campus and ends with a direct line through downtown Davis to the new Target.
“The idea for this has been around for several years,” said Geoff Straw, Unitrans general manager. “[We planned] to implement it last August during our annual service change, but it didn’t make sense to do so yet.”
Although the plan was initially put off for, a number of events spurred its reconsideration, Straw said.
Among these were the move of the Yolo County library to its temporary location at Peña and 2nd streets and the development of the new Target retail store.
Student concern over the A-line’s service to the Amtrak station was another influential factor, Straw said. With the A-line only running twice an hour on weekdays and without a fixed route to the Amtrak station on Saturdays, feedback from both Unitrans riders and student drivers reflected a desire for a new bus line.
Unitrans driver Ulysses Morazan felt that the O-line would be especially beneficial for students living in the dorms. Morazan, a junior clinical nutrition major, drives the Q-line on Saturdays, one of only four buses that provide weekend service.
“Freshmen in particular aren’t allowed to have cars,” he said. “And we didn’t have any lines that went specifically through downtown or to Target. [But now you can] take the O and it will get you to places you’d want to be on a Saturday.”
Already used to riding the bus in Davis, first-year psychology major Luis Hernandez acknowledged that having a route dedicated to serving students in the dorms was essential.
“It’s important for freshmen, [who are now] away from home, to be able to get around Davis,” Hernandez said. “There’s been a lot of times when I’ve been out of resources at my dorm, and Rite Aid or AM/PM didn’t provide what I needed. If there was a bus that offered easier access, I would absolutely take advantage of it.”
Despite perception that the O-line is solely the result of Target’s construction, Straw insisted that the new bus route was not a new idea.
“There’s been a high demand density,” he said. “When this was proposed, everyone was in favor of it. It could get people to all the downtown businesses and Target. We’d hit all birds with one stone.”
Unitrans’ annual service change next August may also include other new developments, such as a new fixed route Sunday service and an increase in service frequency for pre-existing lines. However, Straw stressed that nothing was final.
KYLE SPORLEDER can be reached at email@example.com.