A busload –literally – of NVCC representatives and city and state officials will make a historic run through Waterbury tonight to mark the start of evening bus service for the City. The ceremonial ride will depart from Naugatuck Valley Community College’s Ekstrom Hall at 6 pm, following remarks by NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D., Mayor Michael J. Jarjura, Senator Joan V. Hartley and other College representatives. The expanded hours are made possible through a collaborative formula including state funds and a voluntary fare increase for NVCC riders.

    President De Filippis will preside over the ceremony, bringing NVCC students forward to express the opportunities created for young riders. Mayor Michael J. Jarjura and Neil O’Leary, head of NVCC’s Regional Advisory Council, will speak before departing for tonight’s mayoral debate. Senator Hartley will speak on behalf of the Waterbury delegation including state Representatives Jeff Berger, Larry Butler, Selim Noujaim, David Aldarondo, and Tony D’Amelio. State Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker will also speak.

   The ceremony will take place at NVCC’s Ekstrom Hall, 750 Chase Parkway, Waterbury. Signs will direct attendees upon entering the West Entrance of the campus. The bus will depart from Ekstrom Hall, circle the green in downtown Waterbury and then return to campus.

   Monday, October 24, 2011
   5:45 pm: community leaders will gather at Ekstrom Hall and give remarks.
   6 pm: The ceremonial bus will leave from Ekstrom Hall
   6:30 pm: Return to parking lot.

   President De Filippis and James Troup, dean of administration, met with North East Transportation representatives back in fall of 2008 to establish the College’s concerns. In spring 2010 the transportation issue became a part of NVCC’s Strategic Plan, which prompted the development of a leadership committee in September.

   To help defray the financial burden, NVCC students voted last spring to install a $10 per semester transportation fee that would account for approximately 17% of the $900,000 annual cost. The remainder will be paid by the state through a federal grant.

   As part of the transportation fee, students are also able to acquire a “U-Pass,” which allows unlimited rides on City buses. Out of the 7,300 students enrolled this semester, 460 have picked up passes.

   “So many people came together and worked hard on this project,” said President De Filippis. “I am fortunate to have community-oriented students and leaders who understand the power of public transportation to inner-city students and the opportunities it brings for pursuing work, education and recreational activities beyond 6 pm. This is a historic moment for the City.”