Tiger Trails

Students patiently wait for their bus to depart from the bus stop near Hodges Hall.

Without a student fee increase, bus services will be reduced next fall, according to a survey sent out by Student Government on Wednesday.

The purpose of the survey is to evaluate what students are willing to pay for Tiger Trails bus system, but the survey stresses that with no increase in student fees, the amount of service will be reduced, Brendan Copley, SG director of transportation said.

The University’s transportation contract with First Transit expires in July 2014 providing the opportunity for Student Government and the Office of Parking and Transportation Services to reevaluate the system and make changes based on student’s needs.

“We wanted to go back to the students to get a feel for what the sense was of how much students are willing to pay and what they wanted to see if it reflects last spring,” said Gary Graham, director of Parking and Transportation services.

The two-minute survey is a follow up to the bus evaluation conducted last spring and asks students to identify how much of a fee increase they would support in exchange for between one and four more buses.

“One of the cool things is that students don’t always get input like this,” Copley said.

The ridership of Tiger Trails has grown by 50 percent since 2009, but the fees have remained unchanged, Copley said.

Based on research from the past five years of the Tiger Trails system and the results of the bus evaluation conducted last spring, it’s been estimated that a student fee increase of $13 is needed to maintain current levels of bus service.

Currently students pay $66.20 per semester to fund Tiger Trails. The transportation survey administered to students last spring revealed that 86 percent of those surveyed supported a fee increase in order to improve bus service, and 45 percent of all respondents were in favor of a $35-$44 increase for more service, which would bring the transportation fee to nearly $100.

“Based on research of the last five years, we’ve estimated what it might cost to add one bus or add to three busses to some of the busier routes,” Copley said

Copley said SG together with the Office of Parking and Transportation Services has looked into decreasing internal costs, but even those options are unable to affect student fees.

Next week Copley said SG should have a good picture of what students would like to do based on their responses to the survey.

The next step is to look at the data, see what students are willing to pay and propose it to the Student Recommended Fee Committee, Copley said.

“Student Government is going to try to make a decision on how to give the students the most bang for their buck,” Copley said.

The result of student input in the survey will determine if the University sees an increase or decrease in bus transportation by the Fall 2014 semester.

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