[tabi] TCC unable to renew bus service for students

  • From: "Chip Orange" <Corange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 13 May 2014 15:53:56 -0400

Thanks to intrepid TABI reporter John Plescow:
TCC unable to renew bus contract for students
Alphonso Robinson is majoring in math at Tallahassee Community College,
so his first
reaction upon learning that TCC students will no longer have free access
to StarMetro
buses was to start crunching numbers.
At $1.25 a ride, $2.50 a day round-trip, Robinson figured that $12.50 a
week to ride
the bus will translate into almost $200 a semester that he hasn't had to
pay for
the past two years.
(StarMetro does offer a $38 monthly pass that reduces the cost for daily
bus riders.)
"Now it looks like I'm going to have to take out a loan to have money
for transportation,"
Robinson, 25, said.
Robinson and the other 13,000-plus students at TCC were informed last
week that starting
July 1 they would no longer be able to use their student ID cards to
have free access
to StarMetro, the city's bus service.
TCC's contract with the city, set at $162,000 a year in 2006, was up for
Reese Goad, the city's general manager for utility services, said TCC
was paying
about one-third the rate that FSU and FAMU pay for free bus service for
The first year TCC contracted with the city, in 2006, the city estimated
that there
were 200,000 student rides, Goad said. The number quickly tripled by
2008 and has
remained at roughly 600,000 rides per year without an adjustment in the
"We needed to move it to a level that was more comparable with FSU and
FAMU," Goad
said. "We certainly were providing more service than the payment was
paying for."
The city estimated it would cost TCC between $400,000 and $500,000 per
year for a
fair rate, an amount TCC said it could not afford, said Al Moran, TCC
vice president
for marketing and communication.
TCC has been using student activity fees to subsidize the college's
contract with
StarMetro, Moran said. Unlike at FSU and FAMU, where students pay a
separate per-credit-hour
transportation fee that provides them with free bus service, TCC is not
allowed to
add a separate transportation fee, Moran said.
Approximately 75 percent of TCC's students receive financial aid, which
money for transportation, Moran added.
Student government representatives were involved in the decision to not
renew the
bus contract, Moran said, but incoming student body president Delaitre
said he learned about the change last week in the same email that
informed Robinson
and other students.
"This was a decision that was not made with the knowledge of the general
body," Hollinger said. "I have spoken with students who are completely
outraged and
shocked by this. There was no prior knowledge of this and it seems like
there's nothing
students can do."
Hollinger said he hopes to talk to TCC President Jim Murdaugh about
finding a way
to help the students who will be most affected. The new policy starts
July 1, and
students on financial aid do not receive funds during the summer, he
"This is of grave concern to me, and it's of concern to the other
incoming leaders
of the student government," Hollinger said. "The student body is in
shock right now.
I'm going to do everything in my power to remedy this."
The city has no plans to change its bus service to TCC, Goad said. He
added that
he doesn't expect the change in policy will lead to fewer students using
the service.
"We're optimistic that the ridership will hold. We're not assuming it
will decrease,"
Goad said. "We believe it will hold because it's a good value."
Doug Blackburn

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