The Sustainability Office is continuing the WesPass program this semester after the launch of the pilot program in the fall. The program, which allows University students to ride on Middletown Area Transit (MAT) buses for free, saw 570 total rides in the fall semester and aims to have 1,000 student rides this spring. 

Temporary Sustainability Office Director Hayley Berliner explained that the number of rides from the pilot program in the fall was encouraging to see.

“We had a goal of more like 300, so that was far better than we thought we might see, considering it was the first stage of a new program,” Temporary Sustainability Office Director Hayley Berliner said. 

Though the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact the program, Berliner said that the Sustainability Office still hopes that students will make use of WesPass.

“COVID is still obviously a factor…so we are trying to navigate that, ’cause we don’t want to encourage students to go off campus and either risk infection or risk infecting others,” Berliner said. “But we do wanna see a higher number of rides this semester, certainly, almost double if we can.”

c/o Avi Friederich, Contributing Staff Photographer

c/o Avi Friederich, Staff Photographer

The Sustainability Office is also currently running a social media campaign to encourage students to use WesPass. Students who take a MAT bus through WesPass, take a photo of themselves on the bus, and post it on Instagram using #WesPass and tag @sustainablewes will be entered into a raffle for gift cards to Dunkin’ Donuts and Reboot Eco, a zero-waste refill store in Middletown. Berliner explained that the aim of this campaign is to expand student knowledge of the WesPass program and popularize MAT buses. 

“[We’re] hoping to get just as many people riding and also just kind of destigmatizing the process, ’cause what we’ve heard is that people don’t really know how it works,” Berliner said.  “They don’t know where the buses run or [it can be] kind of weird to do something where you haven’t seen your peers doing it, so we’re hoping to normalize it.”

Berliner also emphasized that the Sustainability Office is working with the City of Middletown to make taking the bus as simple as possible for riders. 

“We’re trying to make it as accessible and easy and comfortable for people as we can,” Berliner said. “We’re working with the City of Middletown, too, to move the bus stop sign, so it’s more clear where the stop is and just put up more signage so people know exactly where the bus stop is and all of that just to make [using WesPass] the easiest thing possible, not an additional barrier.” 

One goal Berliner is working towards with WesPass is incorporating the program into orientation for the class of 2026 to introduce the incoming first-year students to the program early on in their time at the University. She noted that current students are likely to already have different transportation options they prefer to use to travel off campus. 

“Most behaviors, I think, are shaped in the first week or two of being on campus,” Berliner said. “Everyone who’s here already, if you’re gonna go off campus, you probably know how you do it already. You get in this friend’s car or however you do it, and it’s a little bit harder to change your behavior, but first-year students don’t know yet.” 

Berliner believes that integrating WesPass into orientation programming will allow incoming first-years to get used to taking the bus to get off campus. 

“Ideally, we can get something where if students are going off-campus anyway, we just take them on the bus for that activity, so they actually get to ride and experience it and do it with other students, with people who know how to take it, so that it makes it that their first ride is easy, they don’t think about it,” Berliner said. “And then their second ride, it’s just like, ‘This is normal. You take the bus, you go off campus ’cause we’re first years and we don’t have cars.’” 

Ultimately, she hopes that students will consider making use of WesPass as a free and more environmentally friendly transportation option. 

“I just encourage students, when they are planning to go off campus, anything within Middletown, to consider taking the bus,” Berliner said. “I know jumping in a friend’s car is the most logical easiest thing to do, but [taking the bus] is free, it’s reasonably quick, and helps you feel a little bit better about reducing your environmental impact. So if you have the option, the opportunity, we’d love to get more students riding the buses.” 

MAT bus routes and schedules can be found either on the MAT website or the transportation page on the Sustainability Office’s website


Jem Shin can be reached at

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