The UAA Seawolf Shuttle service will not run during summer semesters, according to Facilities and Campus Services. After the end of finals week on May 4, the shuttle service will take a break until August.
In previous years, the shuttle ran on a reduced schedule during the summer semester. Ryan Buchholdt, sustainability and business manager for the UAA Facilities and Campus Services department, said the decision was made due to financial reasons and declining ridership.
Prior to the fiscal year of 2017, the Seawolf Shuttle was funded equally by Parking Services revenue sources and funds from the state. In 2017, the university began moving towards a financing model without funds from the state.
“This was largely to respond to budget reductions and the need to focus remaining [funds from the state] on the care and maintenance of the campus buildings and grounds,” Buchholdt said. “This meant Parking Services would need to cover a greater share of the shuttle cost.”
Parking revenue sources include a mix of parking permits, the Student Transportation Fee and fines.
“It is important to note the revenue Parking Services receives from the fee is not enough to cover all these programs. Permit revenue provides a substantial portion,” Buchholdt said. “To meet the campus needs and the funding objective, we needed to address the costs of the shuttle to reach a point that Parking Services could reliably fund while minimizing permit cost increases.”
Summer ridership accounts for less than 2 percent of the overall annual ridership of the Seawolf Shuttle, according to numbers from Facilities and Campus Services. Buchholdt also said that the numbers of summer ridership have been “dropping substantially” for the past few years.
In 2016, the shuttle service had 1,518 rides over the summer semester. One year later, the numbers decreased by almost a third to 1,066 rides.
“If summer shuttle service were continued this summer, it would cost a minimum of of $22,000. Based on the summer 2017 ridership numbers, this equates to $22 per ride — one way — for summer ,” Buchholdt said.
Transportation lead Judy Arp said in an email she was “not a part of the decision-making process” to discontinue the summer service.
Sophomore elementary education major Sofie Riley lives on campus and uses the shuttle service frequently.
“I think that the shuttle is a crucial mode of transportation for students who do not own a car,” Riley said. “The campus is also so spread apart that it’s nice to be able to use the shuttle as a means to get to class faster and not having to leave your dorm so early,” Riley said.
Buchholdt said the department “agonized” over the decision to cancel the shuttle service for the summer.
“Overall, we… share the campus community’s disappointment, but it was a necessary action to take given UAA’s current constraints,” Buchholdt said.
The regular shuttle service for the fall and spring semesters will not be affected by this decision. Seawolf Shuttles are expected to resume service a week prior to the fall 2018 semester.