The University Record, July 22, 2002

Bus drivers respond to community need

By Diane Brown
Facilities and Operations

Three times in one week U-M bus drivers provided emergency transportation for local evacuations. On July 7, three drivers bused dozens of senior residents of Courthouse Square Apartments on Fourth Ave. to the Days Inn on Carpenter Road. The downtown apartment building was evacuated for four days due to an electrical emergency.

“We were happy to be of assistance to the American Red Cross as they found alternate shelter for the evacuated seniors,” said Patrick Cunningham, director of Parking and Transportation Services. “Normally, we provide transportation only for U-M-related activities. But this was an emergency in our community, and we found a way to help. As it turned out, our buses turned into hotel lobbies when they arrived at the Days Inn because the existing lobby was too small to accommodate all of the people while they waited to check in.”

Then two nights later, two drivers transported residents of the U-M Health System MedInn to the Holiday Inn on Plymouth Road. The MedInn was evacuated after the building lost electricity when its transformers were flooded from a burst water pipe. The MedInn provides housing for families of hospital patients, people who are scheduled for surgery the next day and patients who have been discharged but need additional treatments.

“This was an unusual week for us,” said Cunningham. “But our mission is to help meet the transportation needs of the University community. We were fortunate in these situations that our supervisors were able to come in to work and relieve other drivers who responded to the emergencies. Neither emergency resulted in any loss of regular bus service to the University community.”

Later that week, U-M drivers transported some of the Courthouse Square residents when they were allowed to re-occupy their apartments.