Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Voting for student metro passes opens on Monday

Students can vote for including unlimited metro passes in student activity fees

Voting for student metro passes opens on Monday

Clarification appended. 

AU students will vote next week on a transit benefits proposal that would give full-time students unlimited Metro rail and bus service at a rate of a dollar per school day.

The referendum needs a majority of students to vote yes for it to pass. The proposal would then head to the AU administration for approval. Dan Nichols, Executive Director of transportation, said he anticipates the University will implement the program if the referendum is passed.

A transit fee of $130 would be added to students’ bills every semester, much like the student activity fee. Students would receive customized AU Metro passes that can be used anytime and anywhere on the transit system when the University is in fall or spring session. The benefit would not be in effect during the summer or winter break. All full-time undergraduate, graduate and Washington College of Law students would be eligible for the passes. Students can vote for the proposal using their MyAU portal beginning Feb. 29 until March 4.

Modeled off similar transit programs in colleges and cities across the country, AU would be the first college in the District to implement this type of transit program. DC currently has a similar program for elementary, middle and high school students.

Metro representatives have tabled for the program throughout the week on campus in Mary Graydon Center. Officials from the University, Public Safety, Metro, the Metro Transit Police Department,  and Student Government will also hold a town hall in MGC on Feb. 29 at 5:30 p.m.

“The number one goal is to reduce the cost of student transportation,” said Tracey Foster, director of customer service for Metro.

The transit agency is billing the program as mutually beneficial, one that could reduce campus parking and save students up to $1,000 on transportation costs. The program could also help reverse declining ridership numbers while boosting environmentally friendly options to travel the city.

The program would begin as a pilot in the fall of 2016 and would be reassessed after a year according to the referendum. Foster said Metro proposed the plan to AU in the fall and then discussions progress from there with University administrators led by Nichols. SG’s Kris Schneider, the deputy director of Public Communication, represented the interests of the students in those discussions. The University and SG have not taken an official position on the program; instead, students will make the decision with the referendum.

“I was in a position, on the team with Metro and AU, simply in a ‘how can we get the information so we get the most response for the referendum?’ Schneider said. “They want as many students as possible to vote on this.”

Clarification: A previous version of this story misstated the correct police department that would be represented on the Town Hall. The town hall will have a representative from the Metro Transit Police Department, not the city's Metropolitan Police. 

news@theeagleonline.com


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