With state budgets being cut back and student enrollment rates rapidly climbing at many universities, we decided to check in with university transit systems across the U.S. and find out if their ridership numbers are going up, by how much, and whether they are raising transportation fees to accommodate the influx.
Here are their responses:
“We have a unique agreement here in Gainesville. The University of Florida (UF) and Santa Fe College (SF) have a ‘transportation fee’ that is attached to each undergraduate credit hour. This allows students at both institutions pre-paid unlimited access to our bus service.
Starting this last August, the UF [transportation] fee went from $7.55 per credit hour up to $7.88 [per credit] hour. This was approved through UF’s transportation fee committee due to the request of additional service by the student body. There was no backlash associated with the increase.
SF started their fee program this Fall at $3.00 per credit hour. Their student government has been pushing for legislation that would allow them to implement this fee for the last decade and got it approved during the Spring of this year. SF’s student body is very positive about our service and is requesting more, so the SF fee will most likely go up in the near future to fund the requests. We do not have plans on raising our rates at this time.”
Chip Skinner, marketing and communications supervisor
Regional Transit System City of Gainesville
“For this academic year, the student transportation fee was increased by $3 per semester per student, from $103 to $106. The rationale for the increase is increased bus service provided to ease congestion and provide better mobility from one area of campus to other areas, and additionally, to provide funding for an AVL and APC project in the works. We have requested an additional $3 for next school year to provide funding for new service to another campus across town which is being established and will open next year.”
Ron Hamlin, manager
University of Georgia Campus Transit System
“We have had no raise in any transit fee. [Ridership is] way up. Seventeen percent year over year at this time. We are on track to carry 2.1 million this year — up from 1.8. In addition, we haven’t had a fee increase in six years. In fact, we had a reduction one year. In that time, our counts have doubled. Non-university rides are up from 10,000 in 1999 to 300,000 this year. That was 7% of our ridership then, and near 20% now.”
Jude L. Kiah, director
Go West Transit, Western Illinois University
"In our last full Fiscal Year (2010/2011), we provided 1,594,606 day and nighttime shuttle trips. The one prior to that (FY 2009/2010), we provided 1,400,543 day and nighttime shuttle trips."
Holly Parker, director of sustainable transportation systems
New Haven, Conn.
Tell us about: Your university transit system's transit fee/ridership challenges in the Comments section.