A Transportation Fee Referendum in which students will vote to approve or deny a fee increase from $20 to $35 will be held March 3-4 on RowdyLink. If students reject the fee increase, The Runner will be forced to cut one route, decrease the frequency of bus arrivals on other routes and an estimated 15 to 18 drivers will be fired. The Runner is UTSA’s transit system that shuttles to and from on-campus parking lots and nearby off-campus apartment complexes.
The current $20 transportation fee was first implemented in 2008. At that time, it was used to fund only on-campus routes with approximately 4,000 fewer students and 20 drivers. In 2019, The Runner’s ridership increased to 1.7 million, more than double the ridership in 2008. Campus Services has also added over 35 full- and part-time drivers and The Runner has expanded services to off-campus locations since 2008.
Student Government Association (SGA) senator and junior English major Hernán Ballard explained the need for the fee increase at the most recent SGA General Assembly on Feb. 20.
“The problem is that, over time, the fee … didn’t adjust to how big the transportation system has gotten,” Ballard said.
Ballard described what the consequences would be if the fee increase isn’t approved.
“If [the transportation system doesn’t] get an increase this year, Route 13 will be cut, Route 43 will receive a severe reduction in services and a lot of other routes might receive less frequency in their service,” Ballard said.
Route 13 transports students between the East Campus Lots and the Bauerle Road Lot 1. Route 43 serves West Campus Parking Lots, which include Resident Lot 5, Barshop Boulevard Lot, Brackenridge Avenue Lot 4 and Brackenridge Avenue Lot 5, to and from the Campus Oval.
Assistant Vice President for Campus Services Clay Haverland explained how failure to increase the fee would affect bus drivers.
“I would [estimate] somewhere between 15 to 18 jobs [would be lost],” Haverland said.
If the fee were increased from $20 to $35, it would be used only to maintain the Runner’s current system.
“Right now, we’re just concerned with survival,” Ballard said.
A similar fee increase was proposed in 2018, but students rejected the proposal.
The Transportation Fee Referendum will be included in the SGA general elections which will take place on RowdyLink from March 3-4. To learn more about the fee, visit https://www.utsa.edu/campusservices/events/tfr.html.