Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 02:09
Bus companies are doing brisk business on the UNC campus. That’s because last year the bus system on campus, a part of the Greeley-Evans Transit (GET), gave upward of 23,000 rides to UNC students, which equates to just less than 800 rides per week.
“I have little confidence in these numbers,” said Ron Eberhard, the director of Parking and Transit Services for the University of Northern Colorado.
The Bear Bus Committee negotiates bus rides for UNC students and bus routes across campus. Most people at the committee meeting Wednesday at the Student Senate office in the University Center were skeptical of the numbers GET had put forward for rides it gave UNC students.
The real issue, though, is that UNC’s contract with GET allows the transportation company to charge the college more if buses give more rides to students.
No member of the Bear Bus Committee was against paying for services that UNC students use, but most of the committee members wanted to see some sort of proof that GET was really giving 23,000 rides to UNC students.
GET has no official record of the number of rides it gives students, because there is no card-swipe system. Technically, bus drivers are supposed to ask to see a UNC student’s ID and then mark them down on a note pad, but that hasn’t been the case.
“(Bus drivers) don’t have any incentive to keep track,” Eberhard said. “They’ve told me that if a kid looks like a UNC student, they let them ride.”
Given that Greeley is full of high school students and alumni who could also look like UNC students, this could pose a potential problem. The Bear Bus Committee felt it was paying for something that was not well-researched or well-recorded. What it boils down to, then, was that last year’s 23,0000 rides to students were simply the transportation company’s estimates.
Not satisfied with GET’s method of keeping track of its rides, Wednesday night’s meeting was about finding alternatives.
One solution was to print off vouchers for students to show when they rode with GET. Students would be given vouchers for rides and then give them to the bus drivers. This would provide hard, physical evidence of how many rides the buses are really giving. This was perhaps the best-received option the committee found, although such a measure would have to be voted on by Student Senate first.
Other ideas included contracting with another bus company, or else having a University-run bus system. This presents its own set of problems, though — for starters, it is a huge financial issue.
“University of New Mexico is one of the few colleges doing bus rides on their own,” Eberhard said. “They like it, but they’re twice our size, which makes a big difference.”
What does this mean for the average student? It means the bus system might change in the next year. This year’s bus contract is in effect, and the committee’s goal is always to provide students with the most effective service it can. As was stated at the meeting, the committee wants students to be able to go where they need to go. The committee just want to do it as efficiently as possible.