by Mikayla Davis | Staff Writer
For on-campus students, particularly those without a car, access to adequate transportation has been cited as an area of concern. Last year, it was proposed that the university provide students with free bus passes. After receiving positive student responses to the proposal, ASWU took action to make the bus passes available.
One semester later, senators have conducted constituency reports for their residence halls and received updated feedback on students’ experiences with the bus passes.
“They had mixed responses on bus passes,” said junior Jose Aguilera, Warren senator.
According to ASWU’s meeting minutes for Feb. 20, Aguilera had students tell him that they either used the passes, only used them once or twice, or used them rarely.
For junior Kathryn Ludlam, senator for Baldwin-Jenkins, only one to two residents said they used the passes. “But all want them to stay,” said Ludlam.
Similarly, senior McMillan senator James Parrish reported, “People said they would want others to have them, but none use it.”
Boppel, Oliver and Warren also reported a low percentage of students utilizing the bus passes.
“Like 80% didn’t have bus passes,” said senior Sarah Haman, senator for Boppell.
While interviewing multiple residents at once, Parrish described a situation in which some students did not want their peers to admit they did not utilize their bus passes. According to Parrish, after students reported that they did not use the passes, other residents present responded with “don’t say that, because they’ll take them away.”
Haman reported similar comments made by Boppell residents. According to Haman, even though residents did not use the bus passes, they didn’t want their answers to influence whether or not the passes would be made available for other students, a move Haman thought was “pretty generous and cool.”
Suggestions and ideas to improve the bus pass system were also reported by students.
“Some suggested,” said sophomore Emily Clemons senator for Oliver, “that instead, the passes be for international students, since it’s hard to travel for them.”
The Global Engagement Representative junior Karen Alambong affirmed the importance of the passes for the international population on campus.
“We need bus passes, since we don’t have rides,” said Alambong, “but we’re also thinking of having a van on weekends to do grocery shopping.”
International students face difficulty accessing cars and licenses that other students are more easily afforded. The bus passes provide students with unlimited rides on the Spokane Transit for the whole school year.
Final decisions regarding the continuation of the bus pass system have yet to be made by ASWU.
“We are looking at the success of the bus passes and gathering facts, so as of right now, we are not in the position to make any definitive statements,” said senior Tersa Almaw, ASWU president.
The passes remain available for students to pick up at the HUB information desk.