It’s a familiar Wesleyan weekend dilemma: you and your friends want to sojourn into Manhattan for the weekend, but how to get there?

Inevitably, those acquaintances who promised they’d be able to give you a ride to the New Haven train station will react with befuddlement when you show up, ready to go, on Saturday morning. Driving into New York yourself presents a whole other set of issues: traffic; parking; gas prices. What is a would-be weekend traveler to do?

Your answer could very well come in the form of the Arts Bus. Whether you’re savoring Manhattan’s multitude of artistic treasures or simply bumming around the Big Apple, the bus, a bi-semester service sponsored by the Center for the Arts, provides convenient and affordable transportation from the Wesleyan campus to the heart of Manhattan.

Though the program’s title suggests a specific trip through New York’s cultural highlights, the Arts Bus actually provides a great deal of flexibility. Passengers riding tomorrow, who can purchase tickets either in advance or the day of, arrive between 7:30 and 8 a.m. at CFA Parking Lot T, located along Washington Terrace. After a complimentary breakfast of coffee, juice and assorted pastries, the bus departs Wesleyan at 8 a.m. and arrives in Manhattan approximately two and a half hours later. The bus begins the trek back to Wesleyan at 8 p.m. that evening, giving passengers a full day in the city.

In between, passengers can roam art galleries at the Met, take in Rockefeller Center’s famous Christmas tree, or do just about anything on their personal itinerary. Press and Marketing Coordinator for the CFA Adam Kubota stressed the convenience and openness of the program.

“If you want to go to the city, you have to drive to New Haven and leave your car, and that’s going to cost money,” Kubota said. “With the Arts Bus, you can go down with people from Wesleyan and you don’t necessarily have to come back with the bus. A lot of people like to go down and have dinner in the city or see a show.”

Owen Detlor ’07 recalls a mixture of the artistic and the personal when he took the Arts Bus with his Drawing Two class in the spring of 2005. He, along with the rest of the class, saw the unfurling of Christo’s “The Gates,” in which the famed European artist covered Central Park with thousands of yards of yellow fabric. Later that day, Detlor, a Manhattanite, went home and ate dinner with his family. He thinks that spending the entire day looking at art would have been too much.

“To spend that much time going from museum to museum and gallery to gallery is a lot,” Detlor said.

On the other hand, Kat Aymeloglu ’07, a four-time veteran of the Arts Bus, enjoys the overload of arts one can experience.

“If you’re going up and your intent is to see all this art, and it’s twelve hours, it’s a bit much,” said Aymeloglu. “But that’s part of the fun.”

Aymeloglu added that for those, like herself, who do no have a car, the Arts Bus provides a relatively inexpensive way of getting to Manhattan. Indeed, compared to most other sources of transportation, the $34 Arts Bus fee remains one of the least costly modes of transportation to New York City. According to Amtrak’s website, one round-trip ticket from New Haven to Penn Station for this coming Saturday would cost $84.

Metropolitan Transit Authority, according to its website, charges a far cheaper $28 ticket price for a round-trip from New Haven to Grand Central Station. However, as Connecticut gas prices hover around $2.25 a gallon, the car ride to New Haven siphons more money from your wallet.

The group experience that comes when traveling with a bus full of people excited about their destination is yet another positive element, one that left an impression on Detlor.

“We had this shared experience that we could talk about,” Detlor said of his trip with his class. “I think it’s alot more enjoyable to go with a group of other people who are interested in looking at art.”

As to whether the Arts Bus should travel elsewhere in the future, the verdict seems a bit split. Aymeloglu said she would welcome an Arts Bus trip to Boston or Philadelphia. Detlor meanwhile, doesn’t see any reason to look elsewhere.

“It would be pretty pointless to go anywhere else,” Detlor said. “There’s [no art exhibit] you can see in Boston that you couldn’t see in New York.”

Tickets are still available for tomorrow’s Arts Bus, as long as passengers arrive before the 8 a.m. departure. The Arts Bus will also conduct trips next semester, on Feb. 10 and April 7.

“It’s not the most fun thing to get up at 7:30 on a Saturday,” Aymeloglu said, “but it’s totally worth it.”

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