U-Pass

In our news roundup yesterday, we noted that ASUW (UW’s student government) would be hosting a forum today to discuss the endangered U-Pass.  The discussion will take place in Room 310 of the Husky Union Building on UW campus from 4pm to 5pm.  With severe budget cutbacks at the University, the current funding model is unsustainable.  The U-Pass is heavily subsidized, costing students $99 and faculty/staff $120 per quarter.  According to ASUW, 11.5 million trips are taken with the U-Pass annually.

In recent years, more and more people chose to use U-PASS and fewer and fewer chose to drive, making it impossible to grow the revenue from parking proportional to the new program costs. In addition, financial distress among local transit agencies has led to increases in the cost per transit trip, and a new tax on parking has decreased the amount of parking revenue available to fund U-PASS. If we do not find an alternative funding model, the U-PASS program – which provides the UW community with affordable, convenient, and safe transportation options – will cease to exist in its present form.

UW students can take a survey (log-in required) to address comments and thoughts on a few new funding alternatives.  Read about the alternatives below the jump.

There are currently three models that are being looked at: two new options, and the existing model.  The first two would impose some kind of fee on all students regardless whether or not they commute by transit.  The last model would escalate per-pass prices until cash fares would be cost-competitive.  The program would then be terminated in that case.

Universal U-PASS

This option would provide every University student, staff and faculty member with the benefits of the U-PASS program such as full fare on six area transit agencies, NightRide, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements, and merchant discounts. The fee would be within a projected range of $60 – $80 per quarter and appear as a regular item on a student tuition bill. A universal transportation program, similar to this proposal, has been a sustainable funding option at the Evergreen State College, Western Washington University, and Washington State University.

Universal Transportation Fee

This option would provide every University student, staff, and faculty member with certain benefits such as NightRide, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements, and merchant discounts. The fee would be within a projected range of $25 – $35 per quarter and appear as a regular item on a student tuition bill. In addition this fee would offset the cost of a transit-only U-PASS, which would provide full fare access to area transit agencies. The estimated cost of the U-PASS would be $70 – $80 per quarter. A transportation fee is used at our peer institutions such as the University of California, Berkeley, University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Connecticut.

Maintain Funding Model with Escalating U-PASS Prices

This option would continue the current U-PASS funding system. Based on current trends, parking revenue will remain flat while program cost will continue to increase. It is projected that this will result in escalating prices of the U-PASS, ranging from $99 – $200 per quarter, over the next 4 years. This option would jeopardize campus transportation benefits such as NightRide, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements, and transit options to campus.

97 Replies to “UW Looking For Alternative U-Pass Funding Models”

  1. The UTF option would seem to make the most sense, with full conversion to ORCA. Put a few ORCA TVM’s on campus as well at the HUB, SHUB, UWMC, 1101 Cafe and satellite campuses. Make the default pass load one-zone peak and allow students to use e-purse for interzone rides. If ORCA were more forward thinking, they could also allow use of e-purse like a debit card, much as the U-Pass can now be loaded with cash and used on campus to purchase meals, at the UW bookstore, etc.

    1. Note that the Husky Card Account function is separate from U-Pass. It’s being handled by another vendor, Blackboard. If they switched that to ORCA, they’ll have to change all the readers at registers and printers all across campus and at a few off-campus businesses.

      As for adding functionality to the ORCA card, we’ll have to wait until final system acceptance before any of that can happen. I’d love to have ORCA as a cash card.

      1. I heard a rumor that the company that produced the ORCA system (ERG Transit Systems) has or is going through bankruptcy. I can’t find any info on it online. Maybe that is just gossip spreading around ST.

      2. That was last year. The original ERG, which had financial trouble, was purchased by another company and is now known as Vix ERG.

      3. I believe another company that also does contactless fare card systems bought the US operations of Vix ERG.

  2. I have a U-Pass, and would love to be able to select my own pass value. A $4.75 pass at $99 a quarter is a great deal, but I don’t need a $4.75 pass. What about doing like employers and allowing riders to select their own pass value? I’m guessing that most users come closer to using $2.75 passes. This should be easily accomplished with ORCA, but if UW isn’t ready for ORCA then they could at least offer a tiered system with a couple of options.

    People have a range of needs, the system shouldn’t limit them to all or nothing.

    1. It’d also be nice to allow an upgrade at a higher cost for those who ride the CT commuter buses to UW. That would be a fare of $3.50.

      1. I agree, just offer all the normal pass values or something. This all or nothing approach is pretty ridiculous!

  3. This is further evidence that buses take cars off the roads. Thus, adding more buses does not “just make congestion worse by adding more vehicles to streets”. It takes many cars off streets and replaces those many cars with a few buses, thus decreasing congestion.

    This is also more evidence of how heavily-subsidized transit is unsustainable. Subsidies for transit are going to have to decrease substantially, because the money for those transit subsidies is taking revenues that could be used for many other things.

    People better get used to having to pay a higher percentage of the actual cost of their transportation, instead of having most their transportation cost paid for by someone else. Not just students, but this is going happen at city, county, state and national levels, also. Transit agencies at all levels are becoming black holes for enormous amounts of tax dollars.

    1. As long as decreasing subsidies for transit accompany decreases in subsidies for roads, because roads have been black holes for tax dollars for the last 60+ years. And they *certainly* haven’t all been funded by gas taxes, vehicle taxes/fees, etc. Many of the roads have been paid for out of federal outlays from general income taxes.

      1. Given the amount of commerce that roads facilitate – what is the basis of your view that “roads have been black holes for tax dollars for the last 60+ years”. That, and what in your view changed in 1950 that changed roads from non-black-hole to black-hole status?

      2. I’ll admit, my “Black Hole” comment was mostly in response to Norman’s assertion that “Transit agencies at all levels are becoming black holes for enormous amounts of tax dollars”. To be fair, you should be asking Norman to defend his statement too.

        Roads aren’t the only way to facilitate commerce. Transportation in general facilitates commerce and there are many modes possible.

        The event I was pointing too was mainly the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, so I suppose I should have said 54 years instead of 60. Not that freeway-type roads weren’t in existence prior to this, but this accelerated the construction of freeways, lots of them. Obviously cars and paved streets were around long before this, and the car culture was well established prior to this event. But a lot of roads have been built since its passage, and our cities have sprawled out significantly since the 1950s.

        The article that I have referenced below suggests that “As of 2006, the system has a total length of 46,876 miles (75,440 km),[1] making it both the largest highway system in the world and the largest public works project in history.” So while there are many “black holes” for tax dollars, our system of roads is one of the bigger ones.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System

    2. Yes, buses are a great part of a working transportation system.

      Roads and SOVs are also heavily subsidized. As for your argument that all transportation should be less subsidized, I totally agree in theory. I’m not sure how well it would work in practice.

  4. Personally I like the idea of the Universal U-Pass. Everyone associated with the UW should have a pass to use when they feel the need. Sure some people would never use it, but others might say “what the heck” and try public transportation.

    On the other hand I can see the POV of those who know they will rarely if ever use a U-Pass not wanting to pay for it.

    The UTF might be a good comprimise as it continues to fund campus transportation infrastructure while giving a choice on the transit pass. I agree the cards even for non transit pass users should have the ability to function as an ORCA card. This could maybe be combined with a “pick a value” program for the transit pass. Someone who lives in Pierce county and goes to UW Tacoma could get the $1.75 value pass while their neighbor who works at UW Seattle could get the $4.75 pass to cover Sounder fares.

    1. I’ve got the U-PASS every quarter since 2005, only in the last two quarters I’ve stopped because of the doubled costs. It was cheaper for me to get a pass from work ($18/mo vs $99/qtr) that covers the majority of my trips.

      1. The U-Pass was $35.00 back when I was at the U in 1994. I think it was around $50.00 a quarter when I returned to Grad school in 2000. It was a good deal then.

    2. I don’t like the idea of making students pay for a transit pass that they may or may not use, even if it is at a substantial discount to the general public’s rate. I went to college and did my master’s degree at two separate large, public universities in the Midwest. At both schools, a transit pass was given to every student out of the required fees. The cost of the pass was about $60 per semester.

      I almost never used the pass. I didn’t need to; I always lived on or near campus (within a 20 minute walk). Most of the time I did use the bus it was only as a convenience (e.g. I was walking down a street, a bus was approaching, and I got on for a couple of stops to save a few minutes because it didn’t cost me anything extra). Rather than paying for the bus pass, I would have been happy to pay full fare the few times I actually wanted to go somewhere both out of walking distance and that I couldn’t get a ride from a friend to get to.

      I didn’t need to use the bus much because I made a choice to live near campus. Because of my location my rent was a bit higher than it would have been if I lived farther away, but the convenience of being able to go to and from campus more easily made the extra cost worth it in my mind. It was a choice. Others made a choice to spend less on rent and instead deal with transportation hassles. Why was it right that I should have had to subsidize their choice of lifestyle when they did not subsidize mine?

      Let students decide for themselves.

      1. I’m in a similar situation. I live about 5 minutes off campus, and it takes me longer to ride the bus on to campus than it does to walk.

        But I’ve bought the U-Pass every quarter because I use it on evenings/weekends to go out and have fun or run errands. After the price went up to $99, I contemplated on instead putting $99 on an E-Purse ORCA card, but decided on the U-Pass since it’s unlimited and gives me a lot of flexibility. I feel like I’d be trying to “save” my credits on my ORCA card and wouldn’t use it as much.

    3. I’d think Universal U-Pass could also be a public safety thing, especially if coupled with stiffer penalties for DUI (automatic suspension for quarter for first offense, expulsion second?). I imagine UW is too big to have something like the Badger Van come pick you up if you got drunk and didn’t have cab money.

      ‘Stay Alive, Let the Badger Drive!’ LOL… ah, the memories… I miss college… :/

      1. I think part of U-Pass is the “emergency ride home” guarantee. Cabs in Seattle have a long standing policy of free fare to those too drunk to drive.

  5. In a fair world the state would be picking up part of the tab for the U-Pass program, since the U-Pass program is the UW’s main tool for complying with the state’s Commute Trip Reduction Act of 1991, which is part of the Washington Clean Air Act. It doesn’t seem fair that students are being forced to pay higher and higher tuition rates and then being stuck with more fees on top of it.

    1. SR 520 tolling is proposed to begin next year and will generate a long-term revenue stream. SR 520 and UW are state entities; UW generates 80,000 vehicle trips per day in the area even with UPASS in place (according to WSDOT’s 2006 DEIS) and UPASS, like SR 520, is all about transportation. SR 520 construction mitigation will be required. The state also has GHG goals that should apply to both entities. Food for thought.

  6. From the survey text:

    Students, staff, and faculty coming to campus have many transportation options. At retail rates, the price per trip for King County Metro during peak commuting times starts at $2.25 ($243 for a quarterly pass). Transit costs around the region go up from there, to a maximum of $4.75 per trip ($513 per quarter) for Sounder Commuter Rail from Tacoma. Parking on campus costs up to $15 per day or $360 per quarter for a single-occupancy vehicle permit.

    1. Based on commercial parking rates in the U District and Downtown the UW is undercharging a bit for parking. They should bump their prices up to match the commercial parking rates in the University District.

      1. The UW sets the rates not the other way around. If the UW raises rates private lots increase their prices.

      2. Considering the daily rates are 3/4 what the commercial all-day rates are and heavily discounted for those who buy quarterly permits I find that hard to believe. Besides the people who purchase long-term parking in the University District aren’t typically UW students or staff looking to save a buck but residents or employees of non-UW businesses.

        The UW should continue to remove parking supply and should raise the rates for what supply remains.

    2. A handful of people in my major utilize street parking on days when they only have class for less than two hours.

      Otherwise they use E-1, and I think that’s under $2/day.

  7. I completed the survey as staff. Two thoughts I had:

    Parking fees should be increased and used to defray the cost of transit that allows those who choose to park and drive instead to actually find parking places, and to cover the externalities they exhibit on campus land use–space is used on parking garages and lots when it could be used for additional teaching and research facilities.

    How much do the NightRide and merchant discount programs cost? I have found the merchant discount program to be pretty useless. NightRide appears to me to be an attempt to pander to the fears of late-working students and goes only easily walkable distances. Do any staff use it? Why should staff have to pay for this program out of their paychecks? We already pay a lot more for U-PASSes.

    1. I think I used Night Ride twice; it was mostly people going towards Mercer and Stevens Court. I wouldn’t want to walk to either one at night, especially if it was raining.

  8. “space is used on parking garages and lots when it could be used for additional teaching and research facilities.”

    Don’t those parking garages and lots make a profit for the U.W.? Generating revenue which can be used for other things? If so, then parking is a revenue GENERATOR for the U.W., while transit is a revenue COST for the U.W.

    “Why should staff have to pay for this program out of their paychecks? We already pay a lot more for U-PASSes.”

    Why should anyone subsidize anyone else’s transportation?

    1. Well in-state students are also a cost for UW, while out-of-state students are a profit. Therefore the UW should admit only out of state students. Why should anyone subsidize anyone else’s education? While they’re at it, UW should demolish more buildings and build parking lots for profit.

    2. “Why should anyone subsidize anyone else’s transportation?”

      Good point. Why should anybody subsidize anyone’s anything? I no longer want my tax dollars going towards hospitals, roads, or wars. My tax dollars should instead be spent on building a marble bridge directly from my house to my place of employment. Why? Because they’re my tax dollars, dammit!

    3. The opportunity cost has to be weighed. The UW’s primary purpose is academic, teaching and research, not making a buck off parking fees. While transit is a cost to the UW, it is a benefit by freeing up valuable land for their primary purpose and mitigates the effect of single occupant vehicles coming to campus.

      1. The money from parking can help pay for education, can it not? Since students are not paying the full cost of their education. Why would anyone complain about parking revenues being spent to pay professors’ salaries or building class rooms? Is more revenue for the U.W. a bad thing?

        On the other hand, money spent subsidizing transportation leaves less money to pay professors and to build class rooms. Right?

      2. It is a good thing, as the money from parking is supporting the U-PASS program, which improves access to campus and reduces congestion. Are you suggesting it should not? That benefit is worth spending money on.

        As for money for actual education, that’s a larger problem with the state budget being unable to fund higher education (and basic education) as it should. Hypothetical question, do you support dedicating gas taxes for schools?

    4. As Oran pointed out…
      “I’ve got the U-PASS every quarter since 2005, only in the last two quarters I’ve stopped because of the doubled costs. It was cheaper for me to get a pass from work ($18/mo vs $99/qtr) that covers the majority of my trips.”

      Why should staff at UW pay more than folks that work elsewhere in Seattle?

      1. “Why should staff at UW pay more than folks that work elsewhere in Seattle?”

        Oran probably gets a pass that has a lower face value than the U-PASS.

        Under the proposed “Universal U-PASS” system the fee would be $60-$80 per quarter, which works out to about $20 – $25 per month, for a full-fare ($4.75) U-Pass. The cost of my pass is subsidized 75% by my employer (another major public institution), and it would still cost me $42.75 per month to get a pass with a value equal to the U-PASS. If the UW were to switch to the Universal U-Pass system, employees would be getting a pass for about half the cost of what employees at other local institutions get.

      2. Yes, it’s a $2.75 PugetPass which covers Metro 2 zone peak and Link light rail.

      3. Phil: Oran doesn’t work at or for the UW. The staff U-Pass is $120/quarter. People that are both students and staff pay $99 (the student fee).

    5. Subsidies come into play when the market forces don’t take us in the direction we want to be going. In other words, subsidies are one way to support a *strategic* set of goals. They can also be used to reflect changes in values which the market doesn’t support.

      I’m not suggesting that subsidies always the right answer or that there aren’t other forces which can be applied to achieve goals. It is just one way.

      Norman, because you frequently point to roads as the model of market efficiency, it turns out that only 70% of the interstate highway system is funded by user fees (mainly gas taxes). The remainder is funded through general funds, property tax levies, and so forth. In other words, SUBSIDIES.

      1. Where did you get this? Link, please.

        Last I read, gas taxes were taken from the highway fund to reduce the federal deficit for several years! That is car drivers subsidizing everything else.

        And for years, gas taxes have been spent on transit systems, as well as highways. How much gas tax is being spent to subsidize transit each year?

      2. How much gas tax is being spent to subsidize transit each year?

        Very little, at least in Washington State. None of the state gas tax goes to transit. In fact the legislature has put money from the general fund toward roads. At the Federal level a very small percentage of the federal highway fund goes towards transit. On the other hand the federal highway fund has required repeated infusions of general revenue in the past several years, well in excess of any federal spending on transit.

      3. There’s a general confusion here between the Interstate system and highway spending. The highway trust fund covers the federal contribution to Interstate construction and maintenance but the Interstate is only a small fraction of the nations highway system. What the government taketh from the highway fund for other purposes it replaces from the general fund (the shell game). However, now that the Interstate system is largely complete the burden of maintaining the roads and adding lanes falls to the individual States. At the State level in Washington the lions share of the funding still comes from the gas tax (why we have one of the highest in the nation). At the County level a portion comes from property tax. But King County collects something like $3 billion in property tax and the entire Road Services Division budget is only $127 million. It’s not until you get down to the local level (city) that the funding shifts to property tax which seems fair since home owners need roads to provide basic services (fire, garbage collection, etc.) even if they don’t drive and business which is dependent on roads for customer access and deliveries will end up paying a greater portion since commercial property is assessed at a higher value. Of course there are federal grants at all levels which comes from the pork barrel earmarked to win reelection :=

    6. It’s only a revenue generator because they have priced it as such and the other is only a cost because they are subsidising it. Surly most couldn’t afford to drive plus park every quarter. It’s about equitability and a bit of positive social engineering.

      1. I know plenty of people that do drive and park on campus every day. Yes, they are students.

      2. Oh come on, it’s not that far. I managed to live. If you’ve got classes in the Health Sciences complex it’s not bad at all. Of course the brilliant CS department devised an algorithm years ago that assure all classes will alternate between locations as geographically distant as possible :=

        Motorcycles used to be able to park in the main underground garage and if I’m remembering correctly it was free (circa 1980, may have had a fender decal… just don’t remember). Anybody know if that’s still the case?

      3. Motorcycles still need a permit. Don’t remember how much it is, but comparatively it seems overpriced.

      4. I wasn’t suggesting that a lot didn’t drive to campus, but the majority walk or take public transport. I also pointed out above that I have a friend who will be driving to campus to next year. Although, outside of him, I’ve actually known none of my other friends who went to the UW who drove and that’s actually a lot of people. But sure, they’d be mad to drive from Southeast King County so I wouldn’t necessarily that it counts as evidence other than people don’t typically drive that far to get to the UW on a regular basis.

    7. “Don’t those parking garages and lots make a profit for the U.W.?”

      I guess you didn’t read the part that said revenue from parking is down because fewer people are choosing to drive to campus.

      Besides, the UW has to abide by the Commute Trip Reduction Act, which limits the amount of parking they can provide on campus. The UW, by law, has to provide alternatives to driving for its students and staff and has to limit the number of car trips made to campus. The UPASS program is suffering because the UW has actually been too successful in its implementation of the Commute Trip Reduction act, they limit SOV trips by charging a lot for parking and then use the parking fees to encourage transit usage through the UPASS program.

      1. Parking revenue being “down” does not mean it is not making a profit. I means it is making a smaller proft. But, it is still making money for the U.W.

        I find it amusing that people complain about people parking cars. Then they wonder where they will get revenue, if they no longer have revenue from parking. So, where will the U.W. get that revenue which they now get from parking, if nobody were to park at U.W. any more?

      2. Parking is actually break-even for UW in the best case, and often a money loser. The new student housing on Campus Parkway will remove two more small parking lots. Multilevel parking garages are not cheap to build, and land on campus is at a premium. A recent regents’ meeting report said “There is effectively no surplus research space on campus” due to growth.
        http://www.washington.edu/regents/meetings/2010/april/special.html

    8. Those parking garages and lots on the UW campus are hardly free. As others point out they take up valuable real-estate that could be used for something else. They take money from UW capital funds to build that could be used on academic or research buildings. They also require money to maintain.

      The UW is required by law to limit the number of Single Occupancy Vehicles traveling to and from campus every day, two components of how they do this is by limiting the total number of parking spaces on campus and by the U-Pass program.

      Even without any limits on commute trips and parking I doubt the UW would come out ahead if they encouraged all students and staff to drive alone instead. The required parking would be expensive to build and would take space away from other land use on campus.

      1. Parking in the main underground garage is $15 a day. An SOV permit is $360/quarter but you get your U-Pass fee waived so that works out to what, about $4.50/day. Husky Card debit card using the Montlake lot is $4.00 per day; Carpool (w/U-PASS & Husky Card debit) only $0.80 per day per vehicle (~$2.50/day I think when you amortize in the cost of the U-Pass).

  9. I know this might be a bit of a generalization but, people who are driving, which currently costs more, are already exhibiting that they have enough disposable income to CHOOSE to drive to campus. A Universal U-Pass simply makes that choice a bit more expensive while allowing those with perhaps less disposable income to stop worrying about their increasing transit fees. Plus, it will encourage people to at least try transit, thus promoting the exact type of transportation future we are seeking.

    1. That’s not true at all. One of my friends is going to attend the UW next year and commute from Covington only because he can’t afford housing in Seattle and is a low wage earner himself. He’ll be living with his parents for at least the next two years. He would take transit if it made sense from Covington, but with 3 transfers plus a car ride to the nearest stop makes it completely impractical on any scale. But, having said that, I know he would support a universal bus pass especially because it would still be practical for the times of commuting around the U district from campus even after having driven there.

      1. Bit of advice. I know people with a similar issue. They park near where I live (Maple Leaf) and ride down on one of the express buses to the UW. No parking tax. As long as the parking is under utilized there he might as well us it. It’ll add ten minutes to the trip if he picks the right route.

      2. Lots of people are doing the “hide & ride” thing in Maple Leaf, both to downtown and to the University District.

      3. Yeah, a mutual friend of ours lives close to the Safeway there. The area always has spots available. Guess I should mention the idea to him.

      4. Your friend is going to spend around $1,000 per quarter on direct expenses of driving (gas, parking, oil, tires, etc.). Basic double occupancy dorm room (no meal plan) is about $1,500 and you can usually beat that renting a room off campus (discouraged for Freshmen). They’re going to waste about three hours a day driving and maintaining the car. So if they work a part time job say 15 hours a week they’d be money ahead to try and live on/near campus. Not to mention work experience (any work) looks good on a resume and the overall quality of their experience at the UW will be greatly improved.

      5. You can’t live on campus without a meal plan. HFS requires it.

        I think the commute option basically boils down to you figuring out what’s more important: your time or money. Time for me, so I live 3 blocks off campus and have an extremely short foot commute. It also allows me to come and go as I please, and isn’t a huge hassle for me to go on to campus for reasons that aren’t attending classes (study sessions, meeting friends…)

      6. They require a meal plan, but there’s a minimum plan for those who don’t each much campus food.

      7. Even the minimum meal plan is something like $700 per quarter and can’t be used anywhere off campus. Housing can be found for fairly cheap in the U District though, depending on where you look.

      8. Of course you have to eat anyway and $700 per quarter works out to less than $60 per week. Cost of an additional person at home would be somewhat less but the difference is going to be pretty small… not living at home; priceless ;-)

      9. the HFS meal plan can be used at many places off campus. University Teriaki, discounts at Chipotle, and a few other places on the Ave. You just need to be a smart student and know where to look.

      10. The Husky Card account can be used off campus at the places you listed, but that’s separate from the HFS dining account. The $700 per quarter is put onto the dining account.

      11. Well he already has a job with the KCLS. So, I think he’s going to keep the job. I did say he should really consider finding a place in Seattle just to avoid the hassle, but I can’t blame him for keeping the status quo. Maybe he’ll be bothered enough to find a place the following year if it makes enough sense to him.

  10. I like the UTF idea. Everyone at UW benefits from the UPASS program whether they buy the UPASS or not. It’s not unreasonable to ask non-users to chip in.

  11. I was at WWU when we voted for the required payment per quarter for all students to receive bus passes. Many were against it but I supported it because the collective benefits out weighed the cost for most. This was at a time when WTA was able to expand service and led to the Go Lines commencing. Student ridership was already high, but after the bus pass legislation passed in the SU it skyrocketed the following year. In fact, it was rare that buses headed to or from college weren’t packed during peak hours. It was a win-win for almost everybody. Before this was implemented there was a poll of how many students had used the bus system in Bellingham and it was a relatively moderate figure. By the time I graduated, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who hadn’t rode a WTA bus at least once and most would be at least somewhat regular riders. I say the UW bite the bullet and vote for a universal student pass.

    1. I also voted for the fee increase. The only downside is that the busses were PACKED! WWU in the midst of building new buidings in the the middle of former parking lots. Their replacemetns were built quite some distance from campus (usually free). Lincoln Creek Park and Ride was an excellent example. Students will park there and then take one of the WWU busses. Somedays I knew quite well how a sardine must have felt when packed into a can. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to get to campus.

      1. Oh cool. I didn’t know they were nixing the parking lots!!! Kudos to them. I’d heard rumours for years. I did Lincoln Creek myself for one semester only because I couldn’t find housing close to the university for good value and for three months. Twas handy, but I had wished there were regular enough service out near Electric Ave to justify walking to the bus stop.

        But yeah, it did get quite packed at times. But for me, I was really happy about that. People didn’t seem to mind and the character of the crowd was usually very good.

  12. UW Tacoma’s U-Pass is only $45 a quarter. How much is it at Bothel?

    For me, it’s a no brainer at that price.

  13. I think it might be time to abolish the U-Pass in its present form and simply allow students and staff to buy subsidized Puget Passes like employees of other organizations do. As it stands, people a mile and a half from campus are buying passes that can get them deep into Kitsap County, or what have you. There’s just no need for everyone to get the full meal deal.

    I do think it’s a good idea, however, to have student IDs function as ORCA cards.

    1. Bellevue College students pay $120/quarter but can get it even if they’re only taking one class. Plus, if you work in Kirkland you can get $21 a month for then using the pass to get to work. Net out of pocket works out to ~$60/quarter if you can take advantage of that. For everything it provides the U-Pass is a good deal. It does seem like there should be a sliding scale; which I guess then becomes a defacto Puget Pass. What portion of the student body is using Sounder, out of county buses or the Zip car discount? Then again, since that proportion is likely very low the marginal cost may be so low a majority of people would vote to just keep the full meal deal.

    2. Adding a mag stripe, or printing an ID badge on the card itself wouldent be that big of a deal. They are the same thickness as a regular credit type card so they would work fine in any machine. Otherwise you could simply have a discounted PugetPass/FlexPass type program for all UW students/staff.

      Since all UPass card’s would be registered, the UW could remotely add the next quarter’s product for all valid cards, and all invalid ones would fall off the system. Disable the E-purse on the card, or configure it so its shared with another card (is this possible?) so that when the student leaves school they are not out (if any) of thier e-purse money.

      1. Currently, the student/staff faculty ID card:

        Front: photo, name, ID number, misc text with “UW”. Student version also has room for a “validation sticker”, basically a sticker that proves that I’m enrolled this quarter. I don’t think the faculty/staff have that sticker, but I’ve never seen one so I don’t know.

        Back: space for U-PASS sticker, big U-PASS letters, and mag stripe. The mag stripe contains the person’s ID number and a checksum. It’s used in many places: point of sale/vending machines use it to withdraw from the Husky Card Account (like a debit card), used for access to buildings (there are two types of readers, CAMMS and the other one), and for anything else where they just want to easily grab your student number (Dawg Daze, Career Center, etc).

        The ORCA’ed UW ID card will have the ORCA RFID chip inside and will still contain the mag stripe.

  14. Charge a base fee to everyone ($25 a quarter?) then let everyone who actually needs to ride a bus or train to pick their applicable pass-value. I’ll take $2.75, please.

  15. Stream all lectures online and only require students on campus for tests and seminars.

    Students who want to fraternize can do so with other students in their neighborhood and get hooked up using Facebook and other social network sites.

    1. Welcome to the University of Phoenix. Would have been kind of hard for me to complete a chemistry degree; no mass spec in the basement. Web cams just wouldn’t quiet be the same for music students studying orchestra and opera. Human Anatomy really puts the neighbors on edge ;>

      1. Ok, you make a good point — for some students, they do need to be near specialized equipment.

        But — every day? And why does the equipment all have to be in one place? My suggestion is that maybe some students don’t need to be on campus every day, five days a week. Is that so wrong?

        How about more partnering with industry so you can use equipment and do experiments closer to wherever you live.

        Once you centralize everything, you automatically create all the costs and problems of high density.

        Spreading out work, education, living into multiple nodes means lower costs, more free parking, less bunching of traffic for personal and mass transit.

      2. I had a prof that streamed his lectures online. The lectures were also recorded so you could go back and review them.

        The class was small (<30 people) and I always went to lecture instead of watching it online. It was difficult to ask questions, sometimes audio quality suffered, and it just felt easier to follow in class VS watching online. Just a personal preference I guess, but I don't think I could do an all-online college.

        I also like to get out of the house every day because it makes me feel like I'm "doing something" even if it's just going to class for an hour and coming home.

      3. 1) Sounds like the presentation was poorly done. I would agree that a poor quality video is not a substitute.

        2) However, each and every day millions of people are interacting on social networks like Facebook. I assume that you as a student have used FB. The lecture could be live, with interaction through a Facebook like interface.

        3) If you “like to get out” of the house fine — then it shouldn’t be paid for by public subsidies. Ride a bike or go to the movies.

        4) The point is that it can be done and even if you could reduce the number of trips by one day per week that would be a gigantic savings and free up a lot of resources. Workers are often telecommuting one or two days a week. I’m not saying sit at home and stream videos — I’m just offering a way to reduce load using the same technology that 21st century business people use…

      4. 1) The video wasn’t the point. The slides were presented exactly as they were in class with no loss of quality. The movement of the slides was synced with the presentation in class, and the audio quality was fine. It was the experience I didn’t like. I’d rather be able to sit in class and participate.

        2) We have that. Not Facebook, but message boards, mailing lists, instant messaging, e-mail, and on and on. They’re additions to, and not substitutes for lectures.

        3) Going to class is just one of many excuses to get out. And, I’m not required to go to class, so don’t try and say you’re paying for that.

        4) That’s why I don’t have classes every day. Tuesdays and Thursdays are empty, although I prefer my previous Autumn quarter schedule where I had Mondays and Fridays off. And you’re going to rebut by saying that not all students have that. And you’re absolutely right. Nearly everyone’s schedule is different, and because of this it would be impossible to make schedules so that everyone had at least one day where they didn’t have classes (and even if you could, some people would come in those days anyways for various reasons. I didn’t have class today but spent about 7 hours on campus). The only way you could do it would be to close campus for the entire day, and I imagine that would end up costing more money than it saves. Don’t forget that there are some people that have classes on Sundays too.
        Depending on their job, some staff actually do work from home for some of the week. Same with faculty, but they have to teach classes and hold office hours, so depending on their schedule they might not be able to swing that.

      5. Uh, you do realize that when it comes to innovation, education, and research density is a GOOD thing.

        Feel free to ignore this and continue your trolling like you always do:

        Abstract: Geographers and social scientists have probed the effects of agglomeration and spatial clustering on innovation and economic growth. Economists and others have identified the role of knowledge spillovers in driving the innovation process. While innovation is thus assumed to be a function of proximity, there has been little systematic research on the role of density in innovation. Thus, this research investigates density, and more specifically the density of creative workers, as a key factor influencing regional innovation. It uses principal components analysis to create and implement a composite measure of density and presents a model of innovation as a function of creative-density. Statistical analyses including multivariate regression finds that density and creativity separately and jointly affect innovation in metropolitan areas. The regression analysis finds a positive relationship between the density of creative workers and metropolitan patenting activity. This suggests that density is a key component of knowledge spillovers and a key component of innovation.

        http://www.creativeclass.com/rfcgdb/article/Urban_Density_Creativity_and_Innovation.pdf

      6. You seem to have missed the point that the UW is a research institution. You don’t need to be there 5 days a week, you need to be there 7 days a week (more for medical interns since they are required to be in several places at the same time). When you’re not turning your cog in the wheel you’re learning from those around you. The entire point of the campus is as a gathering place. Sort of the basic definition of Collegiate.

      7. As for spreading out the work, how about over five states. UW medicine already does that by offer the first two years of med school in participating states and then spreads internships across the entire region. But the core campus is still critical to the whole “operation”. We have the technology but would you want your heart surgeon working from home via a web cam?

  16. Since at least 2000, every quarter, every student has paid a fee to fund maintenance and expansion of the Intramural Activities center (read: the gym). Even if you never step foot into the place, you have to pay $35 each quarter for all the greeks and jocks to have a state-of-the-art place to get buff and show off.

    Since 1996 there’s also been a quarterly Technology Fee to pay for brand new monitors for all the computers in all the libraries every two years. At least, that’s what it seemed like it went to when I was there. That’s $41 each quarter.

    Considering those fees, a Universal Transportation Fee of at least $30 seems long overdue. Combined with a tiered pass system, the U-PASS could probably easily be the same value it was five or ten years ago. Maybe they could also use the fee to fund the construction of more covered bike parking on campus, or other things that would get folks to drive to campus less.

    1. The IMA fee goes back to at least to 1985, and probably to when the IMA was built.

      Engineering classes had a technology surcharge in the 80s, but a universal technology charge must have started in the 90s.

      There’s also the opt-out WashPIRG and Washington Student Lobby charges, which most people pay even if they don’t want the services, because they’re too lazy to opt out.

  17. As a UW faculty, I had to stop getting the UPass because the bus service is so lousy I rarely used it, and the fee doubled. Meanwhile, my pay hasn’t increased.

    It used to be a deal just to get the commuter tickets and the opportunity to always have a bus pass. I just got an Orca card instead.

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