On April 27 at 5 p.m., the recent student poll on the U-PASS closed for comment, and now students must wait to hear the U-PASS’ fate from UW Tacoma’s Transportation Services.
The U-PASS is currently a $45 opt-in service fee that works on buses, the Link light rail, vanpooling, commuter trains and Sounder trains. The pass allows for students to ride the included modes of transportation without paying any additional fees.
Transportation Services has heard the plea of students to solve the issue of limited parking availability on campus. This has led them to lobby for a universal benefit of the U-PASS to UWT students.
In order to increase funding for Transportation Services, all students were emailed a poll on whether the U-PASS price should be raised to $90 for those who opt-in or become a mandatory student fee of $45 for all students.
Aaron Gerard, a junior at UWT who lives in Seattle and uses his U-PASS in addition to occasionally driving, knows firsthand what it’s like to deal with parking and the transit systems.
“I think public transit offers a lot of great routes and can definitely benefit people living in certain areas, throughout Seattle especially,” Gerard said. “But what’s worse is the amount of cars that pile the streets during the day. I’ll be at class from 10 until 5 and have no time to go move my car without being late to class or missing lunch.”
The auxiliary services manager of UWT’s Campus Planning & Retail Services office, James Sinding, explained how the current revenue of campus parking is all allocated to the U-PASS program, leaving no extra budget for additional parking structures to account for campus growth.
“Right now, the finances for transportation programming has been running a deficit over the course of two and a half years,” Sinding said. ”With that being said, we don’t have the balance fund going forward that we could use to build parking supply.”
In order to solve this recurring dilemma in the Transportation Services department, Sinding worked with the Transportation Advisory Board and UWT’s administrative department to come up with a proposal, which led to the student poll.
“We didn’t like the idea of raising the student cost to $90 because it would reduce the amount of students who choose to opt-in due to the high cost,” Sinding said. “It really is a benefit to everyone because we can’t build more parking the way we are currently funding things.”
“People are more likely to try and utilize something they are paying for, meaning more students taking transit, and less we have to account for with parking,” Sinding continued. “Reducing the demand for parking around campus, and reducing the campus footprint.”
If the student vote passes the mandatory opt-in proposal, it will then go to the Board of Regents in early June for approval. The change would become effective fall quarter 2018.
To stay informed on the U-PASS, visit:
Alyssa majors in urban studies and community development. She is interested in and concerned about issues in Tacoma that impact the community. She is obsessed with all things chocolate and piggies.