The ACTC bus service will be discontinued at the end of this academic year. The bus has been shuttling students between ACTC schools for the past 30 years. The last day of bus service will be May 22.
According to Vice President for Administration David Wheaton, the decision to cease the bus service came after an examination of the cost and efficiency of the bus.
“The ACTC leadership has had some discussions about this, and at the end of the day we decided that the variety of options that are available now make the bus less necessary, especially with the downsides that it had with respect to travel time,” Wheaton said. “The range of ways for people to move around, and possibly move around more quickly, has made us ask whether the expense of having the bus relative to the cost and how long it took to get around really made sense anymore.”
Some students who have taken ACTC courses in the past have found other forms of transportation to be more effective.
For Marshall Simone ’16, who has taken classes at St. Thomas, taking the ACTC bus was not a practical option.
“It was more time-effective for me to walk or take the city bus to St. Thomas,” Simone said. “Also, the ACTC bus would pick up at limited times and did not match my class schedules at Macalester and St. Thomas.”
The ACTC bus has come in handy for other Macalester students, including Benedicta Amo Bempah ’16.
“I think [the bus] is very efficient,” Bempah said. “Sometimes it doesn’t come on time, but it rarely happens in my case.”
Decreasing bus usage might also be due to the fact that there have been fewer students enrolling in ACTC courses. St. Thomas’s website states that there has been a 53% decrease in the number of ACTC course registrations since 2001. Only 45 Macalester students enrolled in an ACTC class at a different campus this past semester.
Each institution pays $7 per cross-registration-eligible undergraduate per semester in order to use the ACTC bus. For Macalester, that total fee is around $28,000 a year.
“We’ve had some conversations about possibly reusing some of those dollars to help defray the cost to students of having to take some other form of transportation,” Wheaton said. “We haven’t worked out all the details yet, but we’re thinking about trying to determine the best way to reuse some of those dollars with this whole range of options.”
Each school will be making its own decisions about how to proceed with transportation in the future.
For Macalester, this will most likely involve subsidized Metro Transit passes, allowing students to travel to class via city bus, the soon-to-be-installed rapid transit bus or the light rail.
While it remains to be seen if the cessation of bus services will affect ACTC participation at Macalester, the percentage of students who currently take other forms of transportation seems to suggest otherwise. Some feel that having to find new methods of transportation would be a small price to pay for most students wanting to take advantage of an ACTC course.
“I think for most students, the elimination of an educational opportunity not normally afforded to them represents a higher burden than the elimination of the bus service,” Simone said.