Summer bus fee should be option for student workers

Despite the gloom and overall lack of greenness, summer has arrived. While most students will go away to visit family or find some other adventure to occupy their summer vacations, some will continue to come to campus several days of the week to work a student job and earn some extra money.

With the winter that never seems to end, many of those students rely on public transportation to get to and from their off-campus housing.  Every fall and spring semester students pay a $13 transportation fee, which reduces to $10 in the summer, that allows students to ride the public People Mover bus for free. This is a great benefit to students who ride the bus frequently, because the regular cost of $1.75 per ride adds up quickly.

In the past, students could show their Wolfcard to the bus driver and be allowed to ride the bus. Many people unfortunately abused this privilege and continued to ride the bus for free after they graduated and were no longer paying the fee. This is partially why the system was revised to require students to swipe their Wolfcard on the bus, which verifies whether the rider is a current student who has paid the transportation fee.

This new system presents an entirely new dilemma for those who rely on the free People Mover to get to and from their student jobs on campus. If a student is not taking summer courses, he or she is no longer eligible for the free bus service. For those who need to take a transfer bus to work, the $1.75 per ride cost can add up even faster.

Even though student workers are not necessarily taking courses, they are still doing something that positively impacts the university and other students. They are doing a service and should be given something to encourage them to continue their hard work.

A system should be implemented to benefit students who have a student job in the summer, aren’t taking summer classes and have already verified that they will return as a student in the fall semester. If the university can find a way to allow students with a student job on campus to pay the $10 summer transportation fee, then it should be done. The university needs ways to encourage rather than discourage students to stay in Anchorage for the summer to continue their jobs on campus.

The buses are still running regardless of who rides it. If this accommodation for student workers were implemented, People Mover will still get money, the contract with the university will still be solid and students in the community will greatly benefit from it.