Techno bus loses lights, music for safety regulations
Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 04:09
The techno bus may have dropped its final beat.
University Transportation Services prohibited the adornment of party lights and speakers to the interior and dashboards of its buses, when they realized such devices violated federal safety regulations, university officials said.
Transportation Services employee Nader Assawah, known by students as the "techno bus driver," said he was informed that party lights and iPod speakers he brought onto his bus to create a club-like atmosphere during late-night shifts, are no longer allowed because of the potential for injuring riders.
"They told me I could play music on the radio, but it doesn't have the same character," Assawah said.
Assawah, who has operated the techno bus for more than four years, said he has not regularly covered the Hen After Ten route in months, but had planned to pick up a portion of a late-night shift.
He was told he could not attach his lights to the cabin of the bus or place his speakers on the dashboard of the vehicle.
Transit Supervisor Tim Conrad said department officials realized the university could be held liable if one of Assawah's devices fell from its post and struck a student. He said the department feared a lawsuit if a student was injured during an accident or within the course of normal travel, because the devices could not be securely fastened to the interior.
"We want the students to have a safe ride without worrying if they could get hurt," Conrad said.
He said the bus' atmosphere was not the primary reason for prohibiting the lights and speakers. Conrad, a former driver who also drove a similarly themed bus, said he did not think the bus promoted unsafe behavior from its passengers.
"The issue was safety and possible lawsuits that might come out of it," Conrad said. "We don't want to open ourselves to that risk."
Assawah said the bus had gained a popular reputation on campus and students who rode it kept each other in line. Although he said he could accept the bus' lack of lights, he said he did not believe he could continue his signature theme without iPod speakers.
During daytime routes, which he currently drives, he created custom playlists of slower, calmer music to be played during the ride, as opposed to those heard during late-night hours.
"All that, I cannot do without an iPod," Assawah said. "I have never had any problems with the iPod."
Many students, like junior Lorraine Reyes, said they were disappointed that Assawah's bus routes will no longer feature its signature sounds.
"I think it's sad," Reyes said. "It was known on campus, and now freshmen won't get to experience it."
She said she didn't believe potential injury during transit was enough of a reason to ban the placement of the lights and speakers.
"I don't think that's a good reason." Reyes said. "People are standing on the bus anyway, that's going to cause injuries."
Freshman Alex Rendon said he was disappointed he would not get to experience a ride on the techno bus.
After hearing about the bus from a Blue Hen Ambassador during a visit to campus as a prospective student, Rendon said he was looking forward to hitching a ride with Assawah.
"I was kind of looking forward to riding it because it was kind of badass, so it sucks that it's gone." Rendon said. "It's not like it's a major blow to my college experience, but it would have been cool."
Sophomore Mike Granger said he thought the techno bus was a significant part of weekend nights at the university. He said if he saw the bus while walking around, he would go out of his way to get on it because it put him in a festive mood.
"It's like a weekend tradition," Granger said. "You get on it and you're really excited."