Proposed UH Manoa U-PASS Student Fee
Thanks to overwhelming student support, the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Manoa will move forward with its proposal for a $20/semester mandatory student fee to provide all students with a U-PASS for unlimited access to TheBus. On Friday March 20, 2009, ASUH will propose the student fee to the University of Board of Regents meeting at Honolulu Community College, Building 2, Room 201 some time between 9AM to 10:30AM. ASUH believes that showing students rallying in supporting the student fee is imperative for its success. Free shuttles to and from HCC will be provided to all UH Manoa students who wish to be in attendance and/or testify at the Board of Regents meeting. Additionally, all students attending will receive an “I’d Ride That” t-shirt and pizza while supplies last.
On Friday, March 20, 2009, shuttles will depart:
From UH Manoa Sinclair Circle (A Bus Stop) to HCC: 8:20 AM, 9:00 AM
From HCC to UH Manoa: 10:00 AM, 11:00 PM
Please note: The 10:30AM and 12:00 PM departures from HCC to UH Manoa as advertised previously have been canceled.
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Since 2005, the University of Hawaii at Manoa has been selling U-PASSes, or semester-long unlimited city bus passes, to interested UH Manoa students for $100 per semester. Since 2005, 2,506 to 3,321 U-PASSes were sold to interested students, as shown in Table 1. In 2007, three students from the Urban Regional Planning department completed a senior capstone project that involved examining the feasibility of implementing a mandatory student fee to provide every UH Manoa student with a U-PASS, and negotiated with TheBus and the UH Manoa administration to set the fee at $20 per semester. TheBus had made the offer primarily because the expected increase in ridership will help them get a significant increase in federal funding.
Before graduating, the students presented the proposal to ASUH. While the Senate has taken a stance to support the project, we have worked hard to hear opinions from students about the U-PASS. Overwhelming support has been showed by students, and will be presented below. As of February 5, 2009, the UH Manoa Graduate Student Organization has also taken a stance to support the project.
Table 1: U-PASS sales across from Fall 2005-Spring 2008.
Benefits of the U-PASS Student Fee
- Taking cars off the road will reduce air pollution and dependence on fossil fuels, helping UH Manoa to become a leader in sustainability.
- Enriches students’ college experiences by providing access to school, extracurricular activities, internships, and recreation around the island for all UH Manoa students.
- Gives students the opportunity to save money on gas and parking fees.
- Helps stimulate Honolulu’s economy by encouraging thousands of students to explore Hawaii’s shops, restaurants, night life, and leisurely activities.
- If it is successful, the program will reduce traffic on the road and free up parking spots for students. Only 3,300 parking spots are available for the roughly 17,000 students who commute to school and any plans to build more parking structures will take years and cost millions.
- Similar programs at dozens of universities across the nation have had enormous success with their programs, as shown in the table below1:
At UCLA, a recently constructed parking structure cost $150 per parking space per month for 27.5 years, while the cost of a parking permit was only $43 per month. After a similar U-PASS program was implemented at UCLA, demand for parking spaces decreased by 1,380 spaces per average workday. The cost of subsidizing a student bus pass was found to be significantly less than subsidizing parking spaces1.
- Dozens of universities across the US have similar student fees for unlimited public transit ranging from $20 to $100, making UH Manoa’s student fee among the cheapest in the nation .
Shoup et al., 2002. Bruingo: An Evaluation. Prepared by the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, School of Public Policy and Social Research. Click here.
If it is approved, the student fee will be in effect as early as Spring 2010 and students will receive a U-PASS sticker for their student ID when it becomes validated. The fee will affect all undergraduate and graduate students, full and part-time, but will not include Medicine, Law, and Outreach program students (e.g. Executive MBA, Nursing Cohorts, and Education Cohorts). The U-PASS program will run during the Fall and Spring semesters; in the summer, U-PASSes will continue to be sold as an option to interested students for $80. Student interns will work with TheBus and be a part of a careful program evaluation process. The student fee will be a two year “pilot project,” so it has the opportunity to be modified or even eliminated at the end of the pilot period if reasonable results are not found. If the program is a success, other University of Hawaii community colleges and universities on Oahu will have the opportunity to join the program.
Tentative Agreements from TheBus
In recent meetings, TheBus has tentatively agreed to the following if the U-PASS student fee is implemented:
- Implement a website and install electronic signs at UH Manoa bus stops that will notify users in real-time of the estimated arrival times of buses.
- Purchase additional bike racks for the UH Manoa campus.
- Install wi-fi on UH Manoa buses if agreements with wi-fi service entities are met.
- Add late-night buses for routes A and 4.
- Increase bus frequency on routes where ridership increases beyond reasonable threshold.
- In the long term, restructure all bus routes that service UH Manoa to better meet the demands of students and also provide high frequency, high capacity service between Ala Moana and UH Manoa (as a connection to the future Ala Moana rail stop).
ASUH has worked extensively over the past year to inform students of the proposed student fee through campus-wide email notifications, informational kiosks at libraries, dozens signs across campus, and a variety of grassroots efforts. The student body responded overwhelmingly in support of the project. The support ASUH has gathered includes;
- Over 2,200 petitions signatures in support of the U-PASS fee.
- 604 pieces of written testimony gathered at UH Manoa libraries, with77% of them in support of the U-PASS fee.
- A survey asking students with over 2,800 undergrad and graduate student responses showed that 92% of respondents favored the student fee. Over 1,500 online testimony were submitted via the survey, with 90% of these in support.
- Resolutions of support passed by: the UH System Student Caucus, Sustainable Saunders, Manoa Neighborhood Board, McCully/Moili’ili Neighborhood Board, and the Honolulu City Council Committee on Transportation & Planning.
Board of Regents Proposal
ASUH will propose the student fee to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents at its March 20, 2009 meeting at Honolulu Community College. ASUH realizes that showing students engaged in supporting the student fee is imperative to the success of the proposal, and encourages all students to attend the Board of Regents meeting. Shuttles will be provided for any UH Manoa student in need of transportation to Honolulu Community College for the Board of Regents meeting.
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