August 29, 2000

New Bus Service Hopes to Attract Students to Downtown

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The Ithaca Downtown Partnership (IDP) and Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) will offer free bus rides for Cornell students to travel into the shopping district that lays below East Hill beginning this Saturday.

The transportation service will act as an introduction to Ithaca for students who have yet to see the city up close — the city that will be their home away from home for the next months or years.

“We’re committed to trying to introduce students to downtown,” said Gary Ferguson, IDP executive director.

One student, Liz O’Hara ’04, left her South Carolina home this summer to become acquainted with Cornell, and in the meantime she also fit in time to explore downtown.

“Personally I really like the Commons,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara specifically noted the quaint food shops, the artsy specialty stores and the comfortable atmosphere of the Ithaca Commons.

“I wish I could go there more often and with the free bus system I probably will,” she said, adding “I’m so busy though.”

During the next few weeks when incoming students begin to find their place in a new living environment, the Downtown Partnership will try to convince them that they should find many places off campus to spend their time.

“I would love to know, if they’re providing free buses would [students] be interested in coming downtown,” said Carol Schmoock, chairperson of the IDP Image Marketing Committee.

Schmoock, also an IDP board member, said that the partnership set aside $2,000 for student marketing while receiving support from local merchants and TCAT, both who stand to gain new customers.

The fact remains, however, that each year many new Cornellians overlook what is just below their noses, 157 shops that are particularly unique to Ithaca.

“A lot of upperclassmen don’t understand just what is here,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson named four general types of the shopping venues that one will discover at the bottom of State Street and beyond into the community. There are specialty retail stores, fine dining, service businesses and places of entertainment.

“There are things that are unique