Since the completion of the service tunnels under McCormick Road, things have been running relatively smoothly in the Old Dorms area. Buses are up and transporting students, jaywalking is slightly more dangerous again, and the gates are back to being down during the school week. However, no construction job that involves a giant pit kept open for several extra weeks and a transit system with student drivers could ever go off without a hitch. The Black Sheep is here to bring you the breaking news of the trapped UTS bus beneath McCormick Road first .
The installation of new service tunnels was set to take place over winter break. Crews were sent to dig up the existing McCormick Road, lay pipe (not the sexual kind), seal the pit, and pave the road all before students arrived for the first day of classes: January 20th. However, due to inclement weather and what officials are calling “construction apathy,” the tunnels were not completed by their target date and the pit remained exposed several weeks into the semester. During this period, UTS and the Charlottesville Downtown Free Trolley had detoured routes and avoided McCormick altogether. However, this was not the case for one confused Inner Loop driver and his bus full of sorority PNMs (Potential New Members).
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On a cold day of round robins, early in the ISC rush process, a group of 31 girls boarded an Inner Loop bus to deliver them to Old Dorms at around 6:43 p.m. “We thought we were so lucky to find a bus running before school was back in session,” explains Buffie McWoodson, a rider on Inner Loop Bus 11, “we were freezing out there.” Bundled in Canadian Goose and Barbour, the 31 girls boarded the bus captained by newly-hired UTS driver, Brad.
The girls rode the route nearly to its completion and began to make the turn from Alderman to McCormick when, suddenly, the terrain became bumpy and the bus shook wildly, shares fellow-rider Annie Kennedy. “We thought maybe we had run over a few girls that weren’t rushing, so at first we weren’t that worried until the front of our bus began to tip into what looked to be a giant pit in the middle of the road,” she bravely continued, “that’s when we really got concerned.”
The bus teetered over the edge and eventually dropped into the pit, 30 feet below what was once McCormick Road. “I slammed on the brakes but it was too late, we were already headed into the hole in the road I forgot they told us to avoid,” admitted Brad. Trapped so deep in the half-done tunnels, the bus had no way of moving and was soon covered by 2-3 feet of snow. When construction resumed the following week, the bus was buried by enough snow and mud to be obscured from view and was promptly covered with gravel followed by the repaving of the road.
The stranded passengers survived on almonds and granola bars kept with the girls for snacks during rush, and the few cups of lemonade taken from houses while visiting. The girls were able to make it out of the service tunnels by collectively using their Alex and Ani bracelets as tiny pick axes to break through the layer of new asphalt.
Now, after 32 days trapped beneath the road, all riders on the bus, and driver Brad, have made it out and have reconnected with their families. Brad has been promoted to head of University Transit Service.