New bus plan benefits all

It is rare for a group of students to put forward a proposal that actually has merit. The Universal Transportation Proposal is one of those gems. Everyone — students, faculty and staff — needs to support this proposal.

Here is the basic idea: Every student on campus will pay a fee of up to $35 fee per semester. In return, every student will be entitled to unlimited bus trips around town.

It’s not a new idea. I saw a variation of this proposal at work a few summers back when I took a class at the University of Colorado at Denver. Once I had my student ID, I had a bus pass. I used the bus a lot that summer. Not only did I save myself gas and parking money, I reduced my share of Denver’s infamous brown cloud.

The system was so simple and logical, I thought that a lot of other universities would have already worked with their local communities to expand bus service. Yet IU and the Bloomington community are just now getting around to this pollution stopper of an idea.

The situation in Bloomington seems a bit more bizarre than most other places because two different bus systems operate: the Campus Bus Service and Bloomington Transit. The Campus Bus Service offers students a bus pass when they register — at a cool $120 a semester. Unfortunately, it’s only good for the Campus Bus Service, thus limiting you to unlimited round trips out to the stadium, if you’re looking for entertainment.

Bloomington Transit, on the other hand, has been around since 1973 and is designed to serve the local community. If you only want to ride the BT system, it costs $82 a semester for the bus pass — but it’s good only on BT buses.

A third option does exist for those who want to ride both types of buses without having to think about it– you need to purchase both bus passes for only $202.

The new proposal will change the situation. For only $35 a semester, students will be able to ride both BT buses and campus buses — thus saving everyone, including the strict anti-car environmentalist, a whopping $167 a semester.

Many of you are already saying, “I’m not an environmentalist. People in Oregon have the right to be lumberjacks and to have good paying jobs.” You might be the same person who lives five blocks from campus but drives anyway.

You might also be one of those people who complain relentlessly about the lack of parking. This proposal should please you to no end because yahoos like me will stop hogging the parking spaces when we get out of bed late.

One of the key components to this mandatory fee is that it will help the bus systems purchase more buses, provide more frequent service, as well as service later into the evenings. These new features will mean that I’ll never have an excuse for tardiness. If I get out of bed too late to catch the bus I normally catch, I won’t have to wait an eternity to catch the next bus.

Faculty and staff will also be able to buy into the program. Imagine sitting next to your favorite prof the next time you ride the bus — the individualized attention you’ll receive is worth more than the $35 you paid for the entire semester. Of course, this plan will also help improve the status of our environment in the Bloomington community.

This is a win-win proposal for everybody at the University. It is also a major victory for our community. We need to remember that IU is not an island surrounded by Bloomington. IU is an integral part of the Bloomington community, and it is incumbent upon the University to help make the town better.

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