Instead of largely focusing on profits, transportation services officials should care more about accommodating the students who may not be able to enroll next semester because of the interurban bus cancelation.
Students received an email Jan. 31 regarding the cancelation of the Bobcat Tram Interurban lines. Students were told the service was too expensive, rarely on time and a study indicated 48 percent of students could drive if the interurban tram was canceled, among other things.
Normally, I take the bus from a Via Metropolitan Transit center in San Antonio. I spend a lot of time riding the interurban tram, and it is surprisingly efficient. I step off the bus, barely two hours after leaving my house, grinning ear-to-ear because I landed in San Marcos. I feel connected to the campus, as if the marquee on my bus read “Wonder World.” My far-Northwest San Antonio home, when the news started to sink in about the cancelation, felt isolated, and so did I. I promptly set out to find some of the 52 percent of student survey respondents who said they would not have a ride to campus as a result of the termination.
The students I spoke with shared their stories in a candid way. People readily admitted the system has its flaws, knowing the interurban tram’s existence is threatened and negative feedback regarding the structure helped lead to its cancelation. However, none of the students I spoke with supported its cancelation.
Many are not fortunate enough to own a vehicle capable of the demanding Interstate 35 commute. Some live in homes where drivers outnumber cars, or they do not own a car at all. Jason Hall, communication studies junior, commutes from Austin. Hall said his vehicle broke down the first week of school. He sold his car, after being unable to fix it, and adjusted his schedule to allow him to ride the interurban tram and continue taking classes.
Attending Texas State was a conscious decision for many commuters, despite the presence of other more conveniently located universities. Meto Pokorney, exercise and sports science junior, said he chose Texas State because it has the best program for his degree plan. Pokorney wishes he had “gone to UT” because of the impending termination of the bus service and the location of his Austin home.
Interurban tram passengers overcome physical, emotional and financial obstacles in order to attend Texas State. Students who rely on the service experience a shared, although nuanced, hardship, regardless of various individual reasons for riding the buses.
The reason Denetra Taylor, nursing junior, gave for riding the bus was sincere and powerful. “I can’t depend on anyone,” she said.
Commuters’ hometowns cover a wide portion of the Texas Hill Country. Urbanites can live in downtown Austin and attend a school not named “UT.” Sprawling San Antonio, or as one I-35 billboard puts it “Schertz’s biggest suburb,” is home to many happy Bobcats. The interurban tram is the vital link that connects these commuters to Texas State. Students saw the survey taken last year as a means of strengthening this link. Instead, the survey results were used as justification to dissolve it entirely.
I am a multi-modal commuter, often using my bicycle as a means of transportation to the bus and around campus. Potential auxiliary benefits, such as decreased car use and increased pedestrianism, seemed to factor little into the administration’s decision.
It seemed to be all about numbers to transportation services officials, at the end of the day. Only one set of numbers may matter to the 52 percent of surveyed interurban tram passengers who said they would not be able to drive to campus—Aug. 26. This date marks the cancelation of the service and potentially several students’ last day as a Bobcat.