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Ohlone Pony carts students up hill

Laura Gonsalves
Rick Mendonca drives the Ohlone Pony.

Martha Nunez, Staff Writer

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If we had to describe Ohlone in a word, “stairs” would be the one.
The walk to any building on the upper campus leaves students out of breath and almost crawling, but college officials have come up with a solution to help students survive the dreadful stairs and construction detours: the return of the Ohlone Pony.
The new Pony shuttle picks up and drops off riders from a number of stops around campus to make it easier to get to class and avoid the often-changing detours due to construction.
Student Mary Kate Dizon said she found the Pony useful.
“After walking up the hill so many times and you’re down here again, you need something to take you up again: the Pony is here,” she said.
Starting at parking lot G, the pony makes its way through lots H and E, and then up the hill, stopping on the north side of the portables. It then continues to go up to the designated pick-up and drop-off zone before the Smith Center and makes its last stop at lot U, right above the Smith Center.
Even though every lot has a designated pick-up zone, riders can wave down the Pony and the driver will stop to pick them up. Although the shuttle can fit 15 passengers total, as the day goes on the Pony may not have enough energy to pick up and drop off a full load to the highest destination.
The Pony runs from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and then charges overnight for eight hours to make sure that it can get passengers to their destinations.
As the semester unfolds, the pony is becoming more and more popular and students are taking full advantage of it.
“When I started out it was only about 21 riders, but I’ve had 72 riders today,” said driver Rick Mendonca with 30 minutes left until the end of his shift.
If you’re trying to avoid the busy time or if you want to make sure to get on the Pony before it fills up, Mendonca has some useful tips.
“Lot E is a busy lot, and I’ve noticed that anywhere between probably 8:30 to a little after 10, that’s the busiest and the rest of the day it’s even,” he said. Between these times, “who knows, I may pick up 30.”
For many years, students have complained about the draining hikes up the stairs. Now, with the Pony, their prayers have been answered. “Sometimes students get on and just ride up and down a couple of times just for fun,” Mendonca said.

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Ohlone Pony carts students up hill