Transportation services officials need to make solid improvements to bus operations and the infrastructure of The Quad bus loop as they review new proposals and changes for the tram system.
Transportation services officials, according to a Feb. 5 University Star article, requested students pass a vote to potentially increase the bus fee from $78 to $95 per semester effective fall 2014. Students are expected to vote on the matter April 2 and 3, alongside the Associated Student Government elections. The referendum for the potential bus fee increase is based on the same review that led officials to cancel the interurban tram services this upcoming fall.
The proposed $17 bus fee increase will likely upset many students if passed. However, transportation services officials should use the influx of potential extra funding to improve operations for the benefit of students. The university should ensure significant financial attention is given to improvements for the bus loop especially.
Overcrowding seems to be an issue for students waiting for buses to arrive in the bus loop on campus, and expanding it would solve this growing problem. There are students who accidentally get pushed or shoved off the sidewalk while waiting for their bus to arrive because of limited space. This creates a dangerous situation for the students and bus drivers. Transportation services officials would prevent many accidents from occurring and allow students to be more comfortable while waiting if more areas for seating and standing were created.
There are students who would benefit from another improvement to the bus loop, and expanding it would ease people’s frustration. A digital screen similar to an airport arrival and departure board could be installed with funding from student bus fees on the wall in the inner part of the loop. The board could inform students when each bus route would be arriving and departing from the loop, which could help riders avoid missing trams. This could let students easily know how much time it will take for the next bus from their route to arrive if the current one is full. Students can already access the NextBus system through an application on their mobile devices to track tram routes and arrival times. It should not be too difficult to take this same technology and funnel it onto an easy-to-read screen for all students to see. This digital countdown would be a valuable asset to the Bobcat Tram services.
The number of students who utilize the Bobcat Tram services continues to increase, as does Texas State enrollment. In the 2011 spring semester, university officials sent a transportation survey to a random group of 5,000 students. Out of the 1,227 students who responded, 54.2 percent said they used the Bobcat tram services or public transportation to reach campus. It is crucial that safety and efficiency are the main priorities when it comes to the students at Texas State with so many people relying on the buses.
In addition, according to the same University Star article, Nancy Nusbaum, interim director of transportation services, said Texas State could receive new buses for the fall 2014 semester totaling approximately $13 million. If the bus fee referendum is passed, these additions are proposed to occur under a new bus contract. However, if students do not pass the referendum, fees should still be put toward covering some improvements for the tram loop and the current buses to raise the quality of service overall.
If transportation services officials wish to increase the bus fee and take away interurban trams, the riders deserve an expanded loop and improved services to accommodate the growing student population.