Push Comes to Shove: We’ve Got to Shell Out

Picture 23Apparently, the campus shuttle service is out of money. Bus lines will be eliminated. Ridership will plummet. Everyone will start driving to campus. Parking will be a nightmare. Carbon emissions will skyrocket. The environment is doomed. Everything is ruined.

Time to panic? Kind of. Though our shuttles — like every public commodity in this near-failed state — may soon bow to the budget crisis, the department of transportation services has a novel idea: Raise student fees.

The department hopes to pass a $20 quarterly fee referendum by the end of this year — one sponsored by our own student government.

If passed, the new fee would contribute $1.5 million to the bus and shuttle services in its first year. From there, the fee would increase by $5 every year for the next four years, eventually rising to $40.

But don’t bust out your picket sign of the month just yet: The referendum would also give the A.S. Council the option to create a board to control the shuttle routes — a board comprised mostly of students.

A student-run, student-funded shuttle service tailored to student needs.

Let’s not get lost in the shiny appeal of our very own bus line just yet, though. When the university creates boards like the one proposed, it also ensures that students could never sway a major decision. More than anything, this is a great opportunity for the administration to tax the student body, save its broken assets and package it all under the guise of student empowerment.

Take the Athletic, Recreation and Sports Facility Board, for example. Created in 2004 to oversee campus recreational spending, the board does virtually nothing. To this day, student organizations are charged an additional fee to host events at RIMAC. The A.S. Council even set up its own committee to investigate this questionable double-charging scheme. You can see how well that went.

Even if shuttle control is indeed ceded to students, this transfer of power could have negative results. The A.S. Council has never demonstrated itself to be a particularly effective decisionmaking body — why leave them in charge of something as important as getting to and from campus?

For students to wield this type of responsibility, certain conditions must be met. Any alterations to the service should be made only after consulting transportation experts — and all major decisions should be made only after surveying the student body.

Additionally, those students serving on the board should have to be elected through a campuswide vote. Student appointees — like the ones currently serving on every major (and mostly ineffective) campus committee — tend to be apathetic. Prospective members should have to work for a place on this new board, and their selection shouldn’t be marred by internal council politics.

And, as long as we’re making a wish list, let’s be sure to eliminate the automatic $5-per-year fee increase. It’s not fair to levy a tax on future students — let them vote on another fee increase four years from now.

“It’s your referendum,” Director of Parking and Transportation Brian d’Autremont said to the Guardian editorial board. “Not ours.”

But it is theirs, and students need to keep that in mind. This referendum is designed to save a failing campus service, one already heavily bankrolled by students through parking-permit revenue. It’s OK to be outraged.

Ultimately, however, the shuttles need to stay. They provide transportation for thousands of students every day, and, when you factor in the environmental benefits, paying a $20 fee is kind of like doing your civic duty.

Let’s just make sure we take our time with this one.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal