With high gas prices, and Western’s environmentalist creed on the rise, the Associated Students Board of Directors has come up with an alternative transportation solution that could potentially influence the transportation habits of Western students. On April 5, The Associated Student Board of Directors voted to place a proposed mandatory quarterly fee of $25 dollars on the April 25 Associated Student Board elections ballot. If the proposal is passed by students, bus passes will be issued to all students enrolled in six credits or more, and both late night and early morning bus services will be added.
The proposal, which has been the project of Associated Student Vice President of Campus and Community Affairs, Kevin McClain, is an effort to increase student’s use of mass transit, and, as the general number of enrolled students continues to increase, to decrease number of students who drive to and park on campus, those students who fuel the also ever rising parking prices—parking prices, which are now at $215.49 dollars for an academic year pass allowing students to park in the C-lots on south campus, and at $246.93 dollars for faculty members parking in the more centrally located G-lots.
The fee would also be implemented during summer quarter, though at a reduced rate if the late night/early morning service was not offered. Students enrolled in six credits or more would be required to pay the fee, and increases to the fee would be limited to 5 percent per year unless voted upon otherwise. The fee would have a maximum 5-year term, which would be subject to a vote of renewal close to the term’s expiration, according to McClain’s proposal.
Though Whatcom Transit Authority will continue their daily bus services through Western’s campus and the surrounding community, they would not be providing the late night and early morning services, services that would, at a minimum, run in both directions down Indian Street, to the Lincoln Creek Park and Ride and down Bill McDonald Parkway from when WTA’s services shut off and into the early morning. Instead, Western will draw up a contract available for local privatized transportation services to bid on. The most likely candidate is the Airporter Shuttle/Bellair Charters service, McClain said in early March. The specifics of the late night service have yet to be determined.
Though WTA will not be providing the late night service, they will be expanding their local routes, particularly throughout the neighborhoods immediately bordering Western, regardless of the election results. WTA will be expanding Route 16, which traditionally runs between campus and the York Neighborhood, adding more bus stops in the York neighborhood. The Route 16 will run both clockwise and counterclockwise, but will only run when Western is in session. A new route running down Bill McDonald and to 32nd Street serving the South campus neighborhoods will be added as well, and will operate every twenty minutes. Also, Route 90B will be expanded to also serve Lincoln St. and James St. up to Potter St. A shuttle express bus running from Lynden/Ferndale through campus is also being proposed, and would run from 2am until 2pm and operate via I-5.
All students enrolled at Western can vote for candidates running for the 2007-2008 Associated Student Board of Directors positions, as well as the bus pass fee, on April 25 and April 26.