Dear Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and Holy Cross Students,
There have recently been a number of articles and discussions regarding the recent cancellation of the Midnight Express service, and we, the student governments of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and Holy Cross, would like to provide some background, context, and information regarding our decisions going forward.
The Midnight Express was established as a partnership between Notre Dame Student Government (NDSG), the Notre Dame Division of Student Affairs, and South Bend Transpo in 2009 as a safety initiative, intended to provide free, safe rides from the ND and SMC campuses to bars in downtown South Bend.
Over the summer, NDSG was alerted by ND Student Affairs of a 50% increase in the cost of continuing operation of the route, an increase of nearly $30,000. The cost of the Midnight Express would have risen to a total of $85,000, resulting in a $42,500 commitment from the NDSG budget of approximately $75,000.
After meeting with ND administrators to discuss the program, past funding, and best options moving forward, NDSG alerted members of the Notre Dame Student Senate of the cost increase, and asked for their thoughts and feedback on best ways forward.
In reviewing usage of the Midnight Express, based on numbers provided by Transpo to the Notre Dame Student Affairs team, approximately only 17 Notre Dame students utilized the service every weekend, and the bus was more frequently used by students from Saint Mary’s College. Thus, NDSG decided that though this was an ND-run program, it would be irresponsible and uncourteous to not include SMC student leadership in our discussions.
NDSG reached out to the Saint Mary’s Student Body President and Vice President to explain the situation and ask for their thoughts and explained that they were considering eliminating the program, but would not do so without consulting them first. NDSG provided some background to them that usage of the program had been dramatically decreasing in recent years (approximately 25% over the last 3 years), presumably due to the increased use of ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft.
After some time for consideration, Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SMCSGA) responded to NDSG on July 7th. They explained that, given the situation, they believed that the best option would be to eliminate the program and move forward with a replacement. NDSG then alerted the Student Affairs team of the joint decision to eliminate the program on July 8th.
Although Holy Cross College student leaders were not included in the original conversation on the Midnight Express due to the fact the service did not stop at HCC, Holy Cross College Student Government Association is now included in all conversations regarding the Midnight Express replacement.
The student governments of ND, SMC, and HCC are now working together to find a suitable alternative that will meet the needs of our campus communities and ensure the safety of every student on our campuses. We are each also in conversation with our respective administrations and the Notre Dame Office of Student Enrichment. This issue has been discussed in the Notre Dame and Holy Cross Student Senates as well. We are cognizant of the gap left by the absence of this program, and will be moving any available funds to the creation of a suitable replacement.
For Saint Mary’s students, the Blinkie Car Escort Service will still operate Sunday through Thursday, from dark to 2:00 a.m. and from dark to 4:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The SWEEP Transpo service will continue to run Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
We ask that all Notre Dame students interested in helping us find a suitable alternative to this program contact us at email@example.com. For Saint Mary’s students please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and for Holy Cross students please contact email@example.com. We are committed to creating a program that will work well for all of our students and we look forward to working together to make that a reality.
Notre Dame Student Government
Saint Mary’s Student Government Association
Holy Cross Student Government Association