The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Student bus pass prices up despite protest

By Emma WestRasmus

Despite widespread efforts of the Student Power Organizing Committee and the Macalester College Student Government last spring, the Macalester administration has decided to decrease the amount it will subsidize certain city bus passes this year by 10 percent. Last year, the college subsidized the $11, $22 and $44 Stored Value bus cards at 50 percent, but this year will be requiring students to cover 60 percent of the full price of the pass.

Last spring SPOC led an effort to circulate a petition to urge the administration to subsidize unlimited semester-long bus passes at 50 percent and maintain the $40 stored value passes at the same rate, which they identified as “a key step to creating a fair and sustainable future.”

SPOC’s petition garnered 600 student signatures, and gained the support of the Sustainability Office and some academic departments. MCSG got on board with the initiative, and in April passed a resolution calling for Macalester’s administration to commit funding to bus pass subsidies and at the very least, provide 50 percent discounts on both the semester-long pass and the $40 value.

According to the Macalester website, the decision to reduce the subsidy was “based on student feedback and bus pass purchase history.”

The new subsidies will apply to students, faculty and staff when purchasing bus passes at the Info Desk. The 31-Day unlimited ride passes will be subsidized at 10 percent and the 31-Day Mobility passes for persons with disabilities will be subsidized at 40 percent. The college did agree to subsidize the unlimited student Fall Semester Go-To Passes at 50 percent, which was a request of the petition and resolution.

The decrease in the subsidy has led to some outcry from students, especially as Macalester aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2025, and zero waste by 2020. Macalester’s Sustainability Office was supportive of maintaining higher subsidies in order to promote the use of public transportation by those in the Macalester community.

Vice President of Student Affairs Laurie Hamre sees no conflict between Macalester’s ambitious environmental goals and the changes in the subsidies.

“We feel comfortable that we are meeting our President’s Climate Commitment through the bus subsidies offered at the Campus Center Info. Desk and through a subsidy program for faculty and staff through Employment Services,” Hamre said.

Renata Nelson ’13 expressed frustration at the college’s choice to subsidize passes less this year.

“Macalester’s urban location played a large role in attracting me to the school, and I used the school-subsidized bus passes to explore the cities at least once a week last year,” Nelson said.

“The University of Pittsburgh near where I grew up is a large, public institution that provides unlimited bus rides to all students,” she said. “I’m disappointed that Macalester, with its higher tuition costs and emphasis on civic engagement, can’t do the same.”

Though the decrease in subsidization will not deter many students like Nelson from purchasing a new bus pass through the College, she fears that new students may be deterred from exploring Macalester’s surroundings because of higher pass prices.

“Now that I know how easy it is to use the bus system in the Twin Cities, the higher price won’t keep me from buying a bus pass, but I hope first year students won’t be discouraged from using public transportation to get off campus and take advantage of Macalester’s great location,” she said.

However, Hamre said that the change was made with students’ best interest in mind.

“The 50 percent on the Go-To pass saves students 52 dollars more than last year where the difference in the stored value is 4.40 dollars,” Hamre said. “We looked at bus pass usage and then the total amount available for subsidies and determined the best way to assist the highest number of students with the best value.

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