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SRJC to eliminate student bus discounts

Santa Rosa Junior College student Stephanie Nunez of Santa Rosa, middle, uses a subsidized bus pass from Santa Rosa Junior College. KENT PORTER/PD

By SAM SCOTT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa Junior College has put its subsidized bus passes on the chopping block.

The college is close to ending a program that allows students to pay $16 for a monthly city bus pass that normally costs $40 and to pay $22.50 for a county pass that otherwise costs $45.

SRJC officials say the program benefits approximately 480 students and costs the school around $130,000 a year — money they would like to see go elsewhere in a tight times even as the program shows signs of growth.

In March, the school sold about $15,500 in county passes, up 24 percent from the same month in 2010. But increased popularity comes at a price to the school in added subsidies.

“Unfortunately, it’s costing the district more and more money at a time when we are scraping together ideas as to how we can reduce our costs to the greatest benefit of most students,” said Doug Roberts, vice-president of business services.

The proposal has received the blessing of various student, faculty, and staff groups. It goes before the Academic Senate on Wednesday. Barring major objections there, the cut will kick in this fall.

The cut is one of numerous ways the state’s budget crisis is playing out on campus, ranging from a potential 38 percent increase in tuition to fewer classes this summer.

News of the decision hadn’t reached students waiting at bus stops near campus Thursday morning. Few were pleased to hear they’ll likely soon be paying more to commute.

Nearly 6 percent of SRJC students take the bus to school, according to a fall survey by the college’s Office of Institutional Research.

“Forty bucks is a lot every month,” said Stephanie Nunez, 18, who takes two buses to get to campus from her home on Sebastopol Road. “I’ll probably have to ask for rides from friends who come here.”

“It would be a big deal,” said Javoris Bryant, a first-year student and wide-receiver on the football team who also takes two buses to school. “Money is tight. I’d have to get a ride or carpool.”

Jessica Jones, the student representative on the college’s parking and transportation committee, which signed off on the idea, said supporting ending the subsidy was one of the most difficult decisions she has made in student government. She said student leaders supported the decision only after SRJC officials agreed to form a task force to look into alternatives for bus users.

“We have a responsibility to fill the gap,” she said.

Roberts said the cut will be delayed until the fall to give students time to adjust.

“We do not want to pull the rug out from anybody,” he said.





7 Responses to “SRJC to eliminate student bus discounts”

  1. Reality Check says:

    It doesn’t look like CityBus publishes a breakdown of what percentage of riders pay full fare. In other cities the percentage is small.

    Most riders get a steep discount. It’s part of the problem of mass transit in America today. Few rides are willing to pay for what they claim is an essential service. Everyone wants a discount.

    I don’t know the percentage of CityBus expenses that are paid by the fare box, but I doubt it’s over 20%.

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  2. Joe Donegan says:

    It costs me about $140.00 to fill the tank on my pickup truck, which would last me a week if I chose to drive it to school. A bus pass is only forty or so for a whole month. Still a substancial savings. This is a sound fiscal decision.

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  3. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @Mockingbird – In Santa Rosa, it is $60 for a book of 50 one-ride tickets. It costs $40 for an Adult monthly bus pass. But I agree, students, regardless of age should be given a discount.

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  4. Villager with Pitchfork says:

    Is the $25 million culinary arts building squeezing their budget?
    Or is it,
    The new $35 million parking garage
    The new $42 million student center
    The new $35 million library
    Or the $300,000 fire loss from their green model car?

    So they cut cash contributions to the “publicly funded” bus! All the money goes into helping pay the Community paid for bus system!

    I don’t see an end to funding hundreds of millions to build new buildings for the Banking and Building businesses like the new $65 million SSU Student Center. Where is the sense of this? Where is the “Social Equity”?

    Is SRJC offering a degree program in Regulatory Arm Twisting to match its Suck Your Tax Dollars building fund?
    Training new leaders today at Dog Eat Dog College, Division of Poverty Enhancement.

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  5. GAJ says:

    Completely agree with you both Mockingbird and Deo.

    I guess it’s always easiest to prey upon those with the least ability to fight back.

    Sad.

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  6. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I think this is just plain wrong. It will mean more cars and traffic in an already congested area. It will be a major expense for the students already being hit with higher tuition and less student aid available. The bus pass for anyone over 18years is $60 (not $40)for city bus according to the sign on the bus I rode this morning.

    Maybe the city can get involved and include the students in the free ride program which gives them a discounted bus pass. That’s just for city bus riders. Students riding county buses wouldn’t be included however.

    I think the JC should partnership with the county and city and see if they can’t come up with an agreement to help kids get to school.

    And another subject. Many Santa Rosa kids ride the city bus to school everyday. My house is a 2.3 mile walk one way to the Junior High. The nearest bus stop is .8 mile where they can catch the bus which only takes the children halfway there. Then they have to walk again. Either bussing or walking is a hardship for those students. It would be nice if all the city bus routes were planned to accomodate all kids going to school.

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  7. Deo Deneau says:

    Raise the JC rates per unit, take away a discount for green option transportation? Sheez….

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