12 November 2019
Many students are likely unaware that they qualify for free public transportation. Much of the UCCS student population commutes to campus for classes. Some of these commuters ride the city bus. In Sept., 315 riders used the Mountain Metro public bus system under the College Pass program allowing them to ride the bus for free. From those riders, over 6,000 rides were taken that month.
Although the partnership between Mountain Metro and UCCS has existed for almost 8 years, the fruits of that collaboration came into being two years ago as a one-year pilot program. The 2019-2020 academic school year is the second year of the College Pass program. This program is also available to students of Pikes Peak Community College and Colorado College.
Students need only to scan their student IDs or Lion One cards to benefit from this program. They can scan their cards at the kiosk when they step onto the bus and ride for free.
UCCS pays Mountain Metro $5 per student, per semester to cover the fees. This equates to about $150,000 a year for the program and covers the fees for any students who choose to ride the bus. The College Pass is paid for through the “Safety and Transportation” fee that each student pays when they pay their tuition.
Sustainability director, Linda Kogan, explains UCCS’s goal for sustainable transportation is limit the number of single-occupancy vehicles driving to and from campus.
Kogan goes on to include some other goals: “Also, from a social justice lens, to be able to provide those who can’t afford a car, afford the parking, or even those who are foreign exchange students, a way to get to campus. Lastly, it reduces cost and emissions. If this [College Pass] grew to a thousand students, you can say that’s less need for parking.”
Another benefit of using the Mountain Metro bus is that students can collect PIPs points and earn money whenever they ride the bus. To earn these rewards, students should open their PIPs app and have their Bluetooths on, and these points will be added to their accounts.
Students have expressed concern over the issue of safety on public transportation.
A study conducted by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in 2013 on the safety of public transportation concludes that people have “exaggerated transit risk fears due to the combination of excessive news coverage of transit crashes and crimes, safety and security messages that highlight risks without putting them into perspective, and the nature of transit travel, which requires passengers to share sometimes crowded and uncomfortable spaces with strangers.”
Kogan would like to assure students, stating: “Ride the bus! It is completely safe! The statistics show that it is incredibly safe. It’s a myth that it is not safe.”