Metro bus pass causes debate among students

by Heather Fors

Although it may not be as sizzling as it once was, the ashes of the fire are still aglow with the question of whether students should pay extra service fees for an unlimited ride Metro Transit bus pass.
The much-hyped U-Pass plans proposed by University Parking and Transportation Services and Metro Transit would require all students to pay between $20 and $30 each quarter.
Although talks about the proposal have simmered down since fall quarter, the idea of an unlimited ride pass is still being tossed around by officials and students.
However, officials are unsure of the future of the U-Pass, because it has received a mixed reception from various student factions thus far.
In general, students have said they do not want to give their money without reaping any benefits. While some students said they wouldn’t mind paying a small fee of about $15, they don’t like the idea of paying much more.
“I wouldn’t want to pay anything for something I’m not using,” said Katie Ross, a College of Liberal Arts student. Because she carpools to school daily, Ross said she would never use the service. She also said the fee would be unfair for people who live in the residence halls and might not ride buses very often.
Other students like the ideas behind the pass. “I think it’d be nice to be able to hop on the bus and just go,” said Alison Krantz, a CLA senior who walks to the University daily.
But others said it probably wasn’t a deal for everyone. “I suppose it’d be good for someone who regularly uses it, but if they wanted to add it on to everyone’s fee, it wouldn’t be fair, because if not everyone takes advantage of it, it’s really no use,” said Pat Scanlon, a General College freshman who carpools from Richfield. “It’s paying for nothing.”
Officials said student input is important. Officials also said they will not push the issue. “It’s really not up to me; it’s up to students,” said Bob Baker, director of Parking and Transportation Services.
The initiative was not supported by the Student Service Fees Committee last year because it wasn’t brought on by the students, but rather by the administration.
Laura Beauchane, a Minnesota Student Association cabinet member for commuter issues, said if the administration pushes the issue, it might look like students aren’t in favor of it.
When MSA formed the Student Transportation Advisory Council, Parking and Transportation Services asked for its help to get student input. So far, little has been done in this regard. But MSA President Jigar Madia said there will be a referendum on the spring MSA presidential ballot to gain insight on student opinion.
“That would be the strongest piece of evidence either for or against the U-Pass for the fees committee,” Madia said. “Ultimately, if students support the U-Pass, the fees committee will pass it.”
But nothing official will be done without more information. “The more information we can have as to the will of the students, the better off we are,” Madia said. “It’s students who have to pay this money, so ultimately it should be students who decide.”
However, most students are still ambivalent toward the idea of having to pay extra fees on top of the already inflated University costs. “I’d be willing to pay it, personally, but I don’t think it’s fair to force everyone to pay it,” Krantz said.