Beginning in the coming fall semester, there will be myriad changes to UR’s transportation system, including a $6 increase, from $24 to $30, in the transportation fees that are part of the undergraduate tuition.
Transportation costs have risen dramatically and when the University renewed its contract with First Transit, UR’s bus transportation provider, after five years, it had to take into account higher gas prices and increased wages for the First Transit employees.
“In light of those understandable increases, we have had to make modifications of our services to contain our overall costs while serving the needs of our student as well as we can,” Dean of the College Richard Feldman said.
When the fee was instated two years ago, talks began between the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), the administration and various student groups. All responses from these parties, in addition to input gathered at the Students’ Association Senate meeting on March 26, were considered when these changes were made to schedules and routes.
It was also discussed at the SA Senate meeting that a decrease in late night routes would correlate with a possible expansion of the Safe Ride Home program, which was launched in December 2011.
The late night service, which is an offshoot of the Red Line’s day time schedule and which runs between the River Campus and the Eastman School of Music, will be reduced, with current plans showing the last bus leaving the River Campus at 10:15 p.m. and returning at 11:00 p.m. from Sunday to Wednesday. Thursday through Saturday the last bus will leave the River Campus at 1:30 a.m. and arrive back at 2:20 a.m., although the times may be adjusted slightly in the future.
There will be a new housing route, the Orange Line, which will serve students living in the South Wedge and in the Park Avenue area. The schedule of times has yet to be released.
Throughout the next year, the routes and schedules will be reviewed so adjustments can be made as information on how the buses will be used is made available to students.
UR will also be purchasing 19 new buses from National Bus Sales & LSG in Marietta, Ga. — specifically, four small buses, six medium and nine large buses. They will be paid for through the hourly rate UR pays to First Transit. UR will not be passing on this cost to students through the fee increase.
“I feel that given the increased cost of operating the buses next year and the additional benefit that we’re going to get from an Orange Bus Line and all the new buses, a $6 increase is quite modest,” senior and SA President Bradley Halpern said.
With a wide range of student opinion, Halpern expects some “students to be upset.”
“Why do they need more?” senior Justin Gumina, a Park Avenue resident, queried. “I always find a way to occupy myself on campus while I’m waiting for the bus.”
According to Gumina, the morning Red Line shuttles “aren’t that crowded.” He does not believe there is a need for larger buses.
The number of stops along the current routes will not change, however larger buses will be used for busier routes. The administration has also held discussions with First Transit on the possibility of having a system on the bus that shows how many people are riding and what can be done to accommodate them.
“Next year I will be living in the city and if they’re going to increase my tuition anyways and use it on the buses, then yeah [for the fee increase],” sophomore Jessica Hogestyn said.
Johnson is a member of the class of 2013.