SBCC students at risk of losing bus passes if they fail to vote

The Channels Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL

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CHANNELS EDITORIAL BOARD

City College students could be at risk of losing their bus passes next fall.

The Metropolitan Transit District proposed to increase the cost of City College student bus passes from $30 to $32 over the course of the next two years. A campus-wide vote from the student body is required for any change in student fees to take effect. If the proposal does not pass, then the contract with the transit district will not be renewed.

The Channels Editorial Board supports the increased fee but is worried that lack of student participation may affect the outcome of the vote.

For those who do not use the bus system in Santa Barbara, the required fee added to tuition may seem ridiculous or unfair. However, if enough students decide to vote against the proposal, in turn terminating City College’s longstanding agreement with the transit district, we all will suffer serious consequences from the loss.

If this proposal does not pass, students that need to take the bus in order to get to and from school and work will have to buy monthly bus passes, which cost a hefty $52 per month. This can set a student back hundreds of dollars, even after one semester.

Every student that enrolls at City College must pay a fee at the beginning of the year for a bus pass. Recent drops in enrollment numbers have led to decreased funding for the district, which is important to maintain the transportation system many students rely on.

While the majority of our campus may be in favor of the increase, the generational problem of failing to vote poses a huge risk for the future of our local transportation.

It’s no secret low voter turnout favors people who are in opposition of a particular issue.

Many people use public transportation so that they can drive less. Without the convenient option to take a bus, parking at City College will only become more impacted. Not to mention, more students in the future would probably decide to bring their cars to Santa Barbara instead of leaving them at home, which would affect areas already heavily populated by students like the Mesa and Isla Vista.

Not only would this affect impacted parking, if more students are driving versus taking a bus, the Santa Barbara area would be environmentally impacted as well. Additional cars mean lead to more pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Students would not be the only ones affected if the proposal does not pass. By not continuing the contract with City College, MTD would lose a huge part of their ridership.

Last year, City College students rode the bus system just over a million times, making up 14 percent of the company’s system wide ridership. The five bus lines that connect directly to campus show they are frequented by students the most, the 4, 5, 15x, 16 and 17.

Jerry Estrada, general manager for district, has encouraged the Student Senate to work to inform students of the upcoming vote. The senators have set up extended tabling hours to answer any questions about the proposed increased fee and to encourage students to actually take the time to vote.

It’s incredibly important that our student body takes the time to participate in the upcoming vote for this proposal. So many of the people that attend City College rely heavily on the transportation systems. If this proposal does not pass, a huge number of Santa Barbara residents will be in trouble with the lack of public transportation.

To protect our incredible public transportation system, students really need to step up and vote on this proposal. All City College students will receive an email form to cast their votes on April 11, and the window will close at 4 p.m. on April 14.