Posted March 18, 2013 by Cooper Point Journal in News

Clean Energy Committee Saves Bus Pass Program

The Geoduck Student Union  (GSU) reported in an email on February 25 that, “the Bus Pass program has a $100,000 shortfall and will be shut down next quarter,” unless there is another way to cover that shortfall.

On March 4, the Clean Energy Committee (CEC) voted to grant the necessary funds to the Bus Pass program.

“We believe we have a solution to keep Intercity Transit running at Evergreen while keeping the bus fare from going up and without instituting any new student fees for this academic school year,” stated Tyler Langenbrunner, GSU member, in the email.

“The CEC collected over $200,000 this year alone and holds a reserve of over $230,000,” continued the GSU email, stating that they support a proposal to merge the Student Bus Program with the CEC.

“Both of these organizations are actively working towards a sustainable future built on renewable sources of energy.” Langenbrunner continued in the email, “Intercity Transit was one of the first in the nation to transition to a hybrid bus fleet and they are working towards a 100% sustainable future.”

Tom Mercado, Director of Student Activities, wrote a proposal for a CEC grant to be used for the Bus Pass Program. “Ridership and the costs of these programs has steadily increased,” the proposal explained, citing that the Student Buss Pass Program’s cost has almost doubled since 2008.

“There are a number of reasons for the escalating costs,” the proposal continued. “One of the primary reasons is a significant increase in student ridership. Last year we saw a 41 percent increase in student ridership. In 2009 Intercity Transit raised their fares by 25 percent. Record high fuel costs are another reason…In addition to recent double digit tuition increases students are also facing double digit increases in their transit fees.”

Mercado finished his proposal by explaining that, “in an effort to lessen the financial burden on current students,” he requested $100,000 from the CEC fund.

This funding, Mercado argued, is necessary “in order to insure uninterrupted service through next September.” If no additional funding can be applied to the Student Bus Program, it will have to be shut down by April 30 of this year.

Mercado’s proposal elaborated on why the CEC should help foot the bill, stating that this program was one of the first major student sustainability initiatives here at Evergreen, and that, “The program encourages students to use alternative forms of transportation…Many of the buses used by Intercity are hybrids and use alternative energy fuel sources…Since the program’s inception there has been no major expansion of the college’s parking lots. Reducing the need for additional paved parking lots also means less local solar heating.”

Emily Monahan, a member on the Clean Energy Committee, said, “What we voted on most recently was only a grant proposal from the Student Bus Pass Program to the [CEC]. There is, however, an ongoing dialogue between the GSU, the CEC, and Tom Mercado as to how to get more student representation within Bus Pass Program decisions. One proposed solution has been to merge the [CEC] and the Student Bus Pass Program so that the students on the committee could help to make these important decisions. However, I want to stress that this has only been dialogue and no proposals have been made to merge the Bus Program and CEC at this time.”

The January 2013 issue of the “Intercity Transit Rider Update” noted that, as of February 17, 2013, there would be a fare increase for Intercity Transit buses.

The fare per trip for local and Dial-A-Lift services have been raised from $1 to $1.25 for both “regular” and “youth” fare, and day passes were raised from $2 to $2.50.

By Tyler Jones