Commentary: UC Must Support an Equitable Class Pass By Manuel Buenrostro, Sharon Han, Jesse Arreguin and Alan Lightfeldt
This November, UC Berkeley students will be voting to extend the successful Class Pass program for another seven years.
Over 85 percent of students have used their Class Pass on AC Transit and campus shuttle buses since its inception six years ago. During the same period, the number of students who have purchased parking permits has decreased to 12 percent. This universal transit pass has made it easier for students to commute to campus, improved air quality, and reduced the amount of congestion on Berkeley roadways.
The ASUC recognizes the benefits that students have received by the Class Pass. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned over proposed fee increases in the new Class Pass model outlined in the upcoming referendum. While students agree with an increase in AC Transit’s portion of the fee, there is serious concern over a more than $3 increase in the student contribution to the Bear Transit system and a $1.50 per semester fee for Translink implementation.
As opposed to continuing to fund alternative transportation, some faculty members have advocated for using parking funds for only parking-related expenditures, such as construction of new parking lots. While this benefits one segment of the campus, it undermines the progress made to provide access for students and staff.
Furthermore, the substantial increase in the student contribution to Bear Transit will not ensure that service will improve. In fact, certain buses are slated to be cut altogether despite increased funding. Therefore, we are being asked to pay more for less service.
Recognizing this unnecessary burden, the ASUC Senate passed a bill supporting the Class Pass itself, but opposing these additional increases. With student fees increasing every semester, it is disconcerting that the administration would make students shoulder the burden in maintaining a balanced transportation program.
We hope that the university recognizes these concerns and is willing to negotiate with students over the next few months to address these increases. The university has the financial resources to fund a portion of the Bear Transit system. While a minor increase in the student contribution is understandable given increased operating costs, we urge on the university to maintain an equitable Class Pass for its students.
We are paying for this program, and it is our hope that the final model will reflect our needs and our budgets.
Manuel Buenrostro is the ASUC president; Sharon Han is the ASUC external affairs vice president; Jesse Arreguin is the ASUC city affairs director; and Alan Lightfeldt is the ASUC representative to the Class Pass Advisory Committee.