By Matt Fossen
Cornell’s free first year student bus pass program via the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, Inc. (TCAT) has been under severe scrutiny in the last month following TCAT revealing that it faces a $700,000 budget deficit.
The full context and background of the story can be found on WVBR’s news website, but the situation seems to have found some recent solvency. The University Assembly committee -which was tasked with crafting a policy to compensate for the shortage- recently amended and verified its resolution following strong student opposition.
The resolution, which allows students to purchase their own annual TCAT passes or pay per ride going forward, has been highly criticized for its potential to completely terminate first year free passes if Cornell is unable to increase its subsidies to TCAT to meet the current $1.00 per ride rate needed. Other provisions include voluntary rider options being included in first year student checklists and the ability for students to make payments with their Cornell cards for each individual ride.
Frederick Turner ’17 called the resolution “Cornell’s most recent assault on student life” and noted that the “this cut in service coincides with a $2,000 increase in tuition.”
David Tauber ’16 echoed Turner’s point and also opposed “the reduction of transportation to Cornell students.” He said that “Cornell should not only increase its payments to TCAT through its own financial facilities, it should extend coverage to all upper-class and graduate students.” He cited the substantial hardship that students face foraying to and from campus and the importance of complimentary transportation services.
The response from the Student Assembly has been minor modifications to the resolution. George A. Ruizcalderon, Chairman of the Campus Infrastructure Committee, said that UA members “amended the resolution so that it asks the provost office to increase its subsidy to TCAT.”
Ruizcalderon called the change a “win-win” and hopes that Cornell will in fact increase its subsidy. He said that if the university isn’t willing to increase what it’s paying then the CIC “would prefer to have freshman passes eliminated over other types of services to combat the deficit.”
The final provision of the resolution establishes an annual meeting between Transportation Management from Facilities Services with the CIC to review Cornell ridership rates and TCAT’s financial situation. The resolution was sponsored by Ruizcalderon, Jim Blair, and David Bunck, and can also be found online with WVBR’s original story.
The original story: http://wvbr.com/news/1167
The resolution as most recently published: https://assembly.cornell.edu/staffing/motions/307