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Students to receive bus passes in fall

Despite budget constrictions on public transportation on and off campus, Mills students may still get discounted bus passes next fall.

While the decision is ultimately up to the Mills administration, they will poll undergrads sometime in late March or early April on whether to obtain student bus passes next fall, according to ASMC Sustainability Senator Katie Johnson.

“We need 50 percent or more of students to be in favor,” said Johnson.

For the last few months, Johnson has been working to gain campus-wide interest in getting bus passes “at a dramatically discounted price as part of our tuition” she stated in her January post on Student News.

A regular adult bus pass costs $70 per month, and that adds up to $840 a year. A student bus pass will save students over $700.

The student passes will require a $98 raise in individual Student Activity fees per year. The pass gives all undergraduate students at Mills unlimited AC Transit and Transbay bus rides.

The bus passes will last from fall 2009 through summer 2010.

Students will be voting on a one-year test-run with bus passes, which will measure the cost and benefits of adding to student fees at this “economically untimely” moment when the College is already struggling to make budget cuts, according to Johnson.

Johnson said that the price for student bus passes will not initially rise, even though AC Transit raised its bus fare.

According to their website, AC Transit will raise regular adult fares from $1.75 to $2.00 beginning July 1, 2009. Youth, seniors and people with disabilities will see a $.15 increase in fares, from $.85 to $1.00.

Over the last few years, AC Transit’s deficit has grown to $52 million. Since California representatives have cut transportation allotments from the state budget and the recent economic stimulus plan will only cover so many transportation issues, the local transit operator is facing the very real possibility of fare increases, according to the AC Transit website.

However, “our pass pricing is not insulated from fare increases,” said Johnson. “So our pass pricing could also go up in future years.”

Despite these possible fare increases, Johnson is certain that bus passes are a good deal for students, and is confident in student support. In January she requested student testimonials and had overwhelming support. She said only one person was for bus passes with the option to opt-out.

Cecilia Aguilera, a senior, posted her testimonial on Student News.

“An AC Transit pass would personally affect me in the sense that I could save money on gas, avoid the high anxiety that can come with driving through city traffic, and enjoy more areas of Oakland, such as Montclair, the Grand Lake District, Lake Merritt, etc.” said Aguilera.

“I would feel less trapped and isolated on campus,” she added.

Students were also interested in the potential for saving money with bus passes.

Senior Lynnette Arnold uses public transportation on a regular basis. She said that it would have made “a world of difference.”

“Although I will not be here next year, I want future generations of Mills students to have access to reduced-cost public transit,” she added.

Dean of Students Joi Lewis will hold a Townhall Meeting with students about the bus passes on April 1 in the Faculty lounge at 4 p.m.