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ASMC votes to continue AC Transit EasyPass program

Student government officials decided Monday to continue the AC Transit bus pass program for the 2010-2011 school year.

At the Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC) Committees and Executive Meeting Feb. 22, members were presented with three pieces of information to make their decision.

ASMC members vote on continuing the AC Transit EasyPass Program.

The first was results from an undergraduate survey which asked students whether or not they wanted bus passes again next semester. ASMC gathered votes throughout the beginning of February by sending out multiple e-mails with the link to the survey question and by tabling with computers in Adam’s Plaza and at Founders. Out of 456 students who voted, 80 percent said they would like the program to be continued, while 20 percent said they did not want it to be continued.

“I think, based on the numbers and feedback, it seems to be an important program. We’re the voice of the students and if it is something important to the students, then we will do it,” said Amber Williams, a senior and ASMC Co-President.

ASMC also took into account ridership data provided by AC Transit. According to Cleo Goodwin, Senior Marketing Representative for AC Transit, there has been an average of 400 users per month. This is roughly 47 to 50 percent of the undergraduate pool of students.

“The numbers show Mills’ commitment,” said Goodwin at the meeting.

Lastly, ASMC senators spoke to the students they represent to get a feel for whether they wanted to continue the program.

Sunil Tara, Senior Marketing Representative for AC Transit, said at the meeting the program is great because of its low cost, convenience and help to the environment.

After the information was presented, ASMC deliberated before voting unanimously 23 to 0 to keep the program.

Before the meeting Monday, Mills sophomore and ASMC member Aya Fawakhiri talked about the original intention of the pilot program, which began last fall.

“The idea was to have a pass that allowed students to go all over the East Bay and Trans-Bay,” said Fawakhiri.

The negotiated EasyPass program allowed Mills to buy passes for all undergraduate students at a discounted rate.

According to Fawakhiri, unlimited bus passes normally cost $132 a month, but Mills students received the same passes for $96 total this school year.

The price of the passes will go up to $120 a year per student now that the program has been made permanent.

ASMC showed great support for the program both before and at the meeting.

“To be honest, I have only used the pass once, but I love it, it’s convenient. I would pay the money to have it even if I didn’t use it because I know other people need it,” said Fawakhiri.

According to Courtney Young-Law, Director of Student Activities, the AC Transit program is an “all in” or “all out” program meaning that everyone gets one or no one does.

This year, the program was only made available to undergraduates. Since ASMC decided to make the program permanent, graduate students will get to vote in April on whether or not they want the passes as well.

According to Goodwin, if graduate students are included the program, the price of the passes will go down to $100 per student next year.

– Nicole Vermeer contributed this report.