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CATA Graveyard Shifts, As Told by the Bus Drivers

There is no question that the campus CATA buses see a lot of action. So far, in just the last month alone, students have ridden the campus routes 245,000 times (the Blue and White Loops and the Red and Greek Links). But the real action happens every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday between midnight and 4 a.m., and despite not being willing to give their names, the CATA bus drivers left no details out in describing their rowdy after-dark shifts.

The White Loop, affectionately nicknamed the WOOP, is “dreaded by all the drivers,” said one bus driver. The students are like “a bunch of wild animals” when they surge onto the bus from the stops, with East Halls agreed upon by all drivers as being the worst and most chaotic stop.

As I rode the loops with the CATA drivers, each stop brought on a new wave of groups reeking of alcohol.  These nightly shifts at least keep the drivers entertained, said one bus driver, “It’s like me going out without even going out.”

For most of the bus drivers, the rambunctious company on the bus is amusing (and vocally talented) enough that there is no need for a radio to keep them entertained. The songs and chants harmonized on the late-night buses are the best parts of the job.

“I really like when the students know it’s someone’s birthday, and they all sing Happy Birthday to her,” one White Loop driver said. “But this one time, a girl from East Halls stop asked for my name and had the whole bus chanting my name throughout the whole ride. That was probably the best ride.”

Among the usual playlist of drunken students, however, is one crude song that none of the bus drivers enjoy. If you go out on the weekends and take the CATA buses, you probably know which one they are referring to — it has to do with a particular part of the female anatomy.

“They do that bad chant once in a while, and I shut that one down immediately,” recalled one of the drivers. “It’s not a very appropriate song and mostly, it seems that the freshmen start it. When girls start singing it too, I really don’t get that. But, if that’s how you swing young lady…”

The CATA bus drivers have also seen their fair share of wild activity. The drivers have had couples having sex in the back of their buses, people physically rolling off the bus because they couldn’t stand up due to alcohol, and plenty of vomit.

“Kids do stupid things when they get drunk,” said one of the drivers, with a laugh.

Besides the regular cases of underage inebriation, most of the problems during the weekends are surprisingly, students bringing their munchies food on the buses including their pizza from “the Canyon,” said the bus driver.

Not only do the drivers witness Penn State’s drunken shenanigans, but they also overhear probably more than most students would like to share with complete strangers.

“I hear things all the time. I’ve heard them talking amongst themselves, planning bad things or planning good things. Lots of talk about their sexual encounters. I hear a lot,” voiced one of the drivers.

Among the various conversations overheard by our drivers, the best things that CATA buses overhear on their routes, though, are thank yous.

“I am very appreciative of the students that go here. Even though these loops go so fast, it’s still nice to hear a thank you, instead of a ‘f-you,’ ” another driver said.

Where would we be without our faithful CATA bus drivers? Half of us probably wouldn’t get to the library ever or make it home from a night out. So, go out and thank a CATA bus driver today, and remember to keep it a little classier on their buses, ladies and gents.

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About the Author

Bridget Markham

Bridget is a junior majoring in journalism with minors in Spanish and art history. She still hasn’t figured out what she wants to do with her life yet, hence the art history. Like the typical north Jersey native that she is, Bridget enjoys Bruce Springsteen, the Yankees, and the Jersey shore… and she refuses to acknowledge that she has an accent from her home state. She can usually be found at either Saint’s or Webster’s, and if not there, the hiking trails. You can contact her at [email protected]


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