The O’Gara Shamrock Shuttle is the newest shuttle to drive students from the arches to the bars, and while many St. Thomas students welcome it, some are concerned.
The Tiff's shuttle waits outside the St. Thomas arches Thursday night to shuttle students to the bar. O'Gara's Bar and Grill has added a similar shuttle for students. (Olivia Cronin/TommieMedia)
O’Gara’s Bar and Grill began running a Saturday bus that travels to and from the arches two weeks ago, adding more competition for St. Thomas favorites Tiffany’s Sports Lounge and Plums Bar. However, Mike Barrett, associate director of Public Safety, said that bar shuttles introduce problems to the surrounding communities.
“A pretty good percentage of those patrons on the bus are not affiliated with the institution,” Barrett said. “They don’t know how to act or the culture here.”
Tiff’s, a sports bar on Ford Parkway, has run a Thursday shuttle from the arches for years.
Barrett said that Tiff’s began the shuttle to fix parking concerns and neighborhood relations. However, once its shuttle began running to St. Thomas, those same problems affected the campus’ surrounding community.
“They’ve done a great job of cleaning up the things… noisy patrons and whatnot,” Barrett said. “What Tiff’s has cleaned up on Ford Parkway, is now what we are trying to clean up here.”
Students like senior Chad Schneider said that O’Gara’s shuttle is a smart, safe way to get students to and from the bar.
“I think they’re just trying to be similar to Tiff’s because they know students take advantage of it,” Schneider said. “It gives students the safety of a sober cab ride. They can just take it for free, and everyone can go out and have a good time.”
Barrett said he agrees that taking the shuttles is a responsible choice.
“I focus on those choosing socially responsible means of having a good time,” Barrett said. “As long as they do that, it’s just another bus driving through the neighborhood.”
Senior Cassandra Meffert said that both Tiff’s and O’Gara’s shuttles are “convenient” travel options for students, and O’Gara’s new shuttle is thinning out crowds at other bars.
“I like it because other places like Tiff’s and Plums are too congested,” Meffert said. “It’s fun to go somewhere and not be shoulder to shoulder with everyone there.”
O’Gara’s recently renovated its old music garage into The Shanty. The improvements have caught some students’ attention, and it is quickly growing in popularity.
Junior Isaac Bergstrom said that he was impressed by the upgrades.
“It’s got a nice big bar, a good dance floor and plenty of room so it doesn’t get too crowded,” Bergstrom said. “But there’s still a lot of people there.”
Aside from bar shuttles, Barrett said that Public Safety is focusing on working to decrease alcohol-discipline cases.
“The more it becomes a problem, the more we will be there alongside our public partners, the St. Paul Police Department, focusing on solving the issues,” Barrett said.
Public Safety’s efforts are showing. According to its records, there were 346 alcohol-related cases in 2010, which is 105 less than in 2009.
Barrett said that Public Safety’s main concern is the health and safety of the students.
“When they are over-served, underage or possess fake I.D.’s, that’s when it becomes an issue,” Barrett said. “When they’re at the arches vomiting in a flower pot, we see that as a health and safety issue so we intervene.”
Olivia Cronin can be reached at email@example.com.