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If you live in Newport Beach, there is no better feeling than seeing bright sunshine and blue skies on a Friday afternoon after your last class. It’s a relief to get through the week and enjoy at least one afternoon of relaxation on the beach. (If you are like me, a Friday afternoon means at least two days of heavy relaxation on the beach.)
However, there is only one little bump on the road to a wonderful Friday afternoon: the drive home. If you get out at 3:50 or 4:50 p.m. with the rest of UC Irvine, you now have to navigate the 10- to 15-minute, slow-motion drive to your respective freeway. Once on the freeway, irritation takes hold. Soon, you start spouting schizophrenic outbursts at the cars as you try to merge onto an even busier freeway. This is the reason why Californians are so mellow: We express all of our anger while driving.
Once home, you might do a number of things that should (and probably do) include a beer, couch and TV. But once on the couch, you feel even more exhausted than before you left campus. Why? Because those outbursts at Orange County’s finest drivers knocked you out, and now you are going to waste your beautiful Friday afternoon taking a nap.
Well, my fellow Newportians, I have a remedy: the Newport Beach Shuttle. It is one of the best things that UCI has ever produced and, in my opinion, it has been very little used. I have yet to drive to school once this quarter and have not missed one day as a result. For the students out there who have a tendency to miss class, tell me: is it because you don’t want to get out of bed, drive to school and find a parking spot?
I can relate. However, that feeling subsides when you know you can sleep on the way to school, when the bus drops you off right next to campus, when you know your buddy is going to be on the same bus, and you guys can have a nice morning chat on your way to school.
The shuttle is a great opportunity for students who live in Newport to meet one another and establish a broader community. We are actually a fairly small group of residents on the Newport Peninsula, but the shuttle can change that. It dismantles the argument that Newport is too far because you do not have to drive anymore. The money you save on gas and parking permits heavily compensates for the price of living, not to mention the hassle that comes with them.
The Newport Shuttle does not only cater to students who live in Newport, though. Freshmen, wake up! I know it gets hot on campus, and all you want to do is hit the beach sometimes. The problem is that nobody wants to waste gas, and parking is ridiculous. Well, now the beach is only a clean shuttle ride away. And trust me, as this quarter goes on, you will want to get to the beach.
I understand if you have never tried it and feel weird about taking the bus. Don’t worry. The drivers are always willing to answer questions about bus routes and time schedules. Robert Petrossian, one such driver, said, “We actually really like to see kids on the bus. It means students are taking advantage of the service we provide.”
He also explains that he cannot comment on whether the shuttle will be around next year. But I know for a fact that they will not shut it down if people keep riding it. So let’s jump on it, people! This could be a huge factor in the school’s social aptitude if it becomes a staple in our small Newport culture. So, as you jump on the next shuttle, I not only want you to enjoy the smooth ride, but say “hey” to another person on the shuttle. I promise it will make your Friday afternoon that much better.

Mark Ratto is a third-year literary journalism major. He can be reached at mratto@uci.edu.

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