Any student who has had to trudge home down Railroad Avenue on a cold night or scour the couch for loose change to take the bus may be happy to hear that there's a faster, cheaper way to get around town.
For community members, a three-month pass for Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) buses costs $30. Starting this fall, students taking six credits or more pay a quarterly $25 transportation fee for a bus pass good for unlimited use of WTA buses.
The fee also pays for the new night shuttle that runs after WTA service ends until 3 a.m. every day, Student Transportation Coordinator Devin Branson said.
Two night shuttles will travel in opposite directions around WWU, stopping every half hour at WTA stops on Highland Drive, Bill McDonald Parkway, Lincoln Street, Lakeway, Holly Street, and Railroad Avenue.
The night shuttles are privately owned and operated, Branson said.
The remaining funds from the fee will pay for small improvements to things like campus walking trails and bike racks.
“We're being very, very fiscally conservative with our limited funds,” Branson said.
To come up with the price of the bus passes, WTA divided the amount of money from bus passes sold to students last year by the number of students taking six or more credits this year. This way, Branson said, the bus passes are fairly priced and WTA does not make more money than they would have without the transportation fee.
Students who already own cars may find taking the bus a more convenient alternative to looking for a parking space, Branson said.
“We know a lot of students will probably still feel like they need their cars up here, and that's fine,” Branson said. “Now they really don't need to buy parking passes.”
Even students who drive to school are likely to see less cars on the road, Sustainable Transportation Coordinator Carol Berry said.
“Your parking experience is going to be a lot easier,” Berry said.
The idea for a transportation fee first came up in 2000, Berry said. Students wanted to find inexpensive alternatives to driving to school, as well as reduce the impact of fossil fuel on the environment.
“We're wanting to prevent a lot of the horrors of traffic congestion,” Berry said. “We know how beautiful it is here, and we don't want to lose that to sprawl.”
To get a bus pass, bring your WWU ID card to the Western Library Skybridge between now and Oct. 3, or pick them up at the card office Monday through Friday all year.