U-Pass program extended for the summer
Jared McKiernan, Assistant News Editor
May 21, 2012
Filed under News
Cal State Long Beach signed a new three-year agreement with Long Beach Transit that will allow the entire CSULB campus year-round access to the city’s U-Pass program, starting May 26.
The U-Pass partnership, which began September 2008, will once again give students and faculty the option to ride any LBT bus or Passport shuttle for free seven days a week, 365 days a year by swiping a valid CSULB identification card through the bus’ fare box.
The program offered 365-day access during one other period in its four-year history, from October 2008 until October 2009.
The U-Pass partnership was established in response to high gas prices and the expected increase in on-campus parking congestion at CSULB when classes began in fall 2008.
CSULB is currently the only Cal State University campus to have a U-Pass program.
Prior to the new agreement, the program faced an uncertain future due to tight budgets and limited funds from campus fines and forfeitures, the primary financial source for the U-Pass system. But the popularity and efficiency of the program prompted officials on both sides to reach a deal.
Elissa Thomas, sustainable transportation coordinator for CSULB, was one of the officials who fought to keep the U-Pass program in place.
“It went from, ‘How can we afford to do this?’ to, ‘How can we afford not to do this?’” Thomas said.
In addition to revenue from parking tickets and parking passes, $2 from each student’s Student Excellence Fee is put towards U-Pass and other sustainable transportation efforts, such as JAX’s Bike Checks on campus, each semester.
The current U-Pass agreement, which was signed prior to the fall 2011 semester, allowed use of the bus system for the fall 2011 and spring 2012 academic sessions but not summer 2011.
LBT Senior Vice President Marcelle Eply said that while making the program year-round benefited students and faculty, it is also proved more cost-efficient for LBT.
“We spent a lot of money on trying to communicate when the program was ending and then again when it started back up, so when you start and stop a program like that it causes a lot of confusion,” Eply said. “This way, it’s seamless.”
Some students enrolled in summer classes are planning to take advantage of the 365-day U-Pass access.
“You shouldn’t have to pay to get to school,” sophomore health science major Kiara Fair said. “I’ll be going to [Long Beach Community College] this summer to get some classes done, so I’ll definitely be using it.”
Even students not taking summer classes are also excited about the summer access.
“I like it,” Lauren Ross, a sophomore civil engineering major, said. “I think it’s pretty cool, because I take the bus often. It’ll come in handy in the summer to go to the beach.”
Starting June 30, the University Bookstore will no longer provide or sell any forms of transit fare for LBT, Metropolitan Transit Authority or Orange County Transit Authority.