Overcrowding on the campus bus system has been a problem for years with students missing buses, being crammed onto one or recently pushing each other over to get on. While I agree it is a supply and demand issue, regulating demand by forcing students to pay bus fare is not the solution for a number of reasons.
First, forcing students to pay for the buses will result in lower-income students having to make the decision to walk or take the bus. Those who can’t afford the bus fees will end up having to walk in negative temperatures upwards of 45 minutes to an hour to get to their classes. Secondly, requiring a fee, or even incentivizing students to walk, creates a less accessible environment for students who use the bus system to navigate campus safely and with ease. Finally, by requiring a fee for the bus system, there is no guarantee for students that the next best option is walking. What if a student decides to drive or take an Uber? While this may reduce bus congestion, it does little for the argument of sustainability, especially since public transportation is one of the most sustainable transportation options.
As a result, the best way to address overcrowding is to not control demand but rather redistribute supply. Focusing on the supply side of the buses could have the same impact when it comes to addressing overcrowding without placing the burden onto students. This redistribution can be done through increasing bus circulations, adjusting frequency, adding more routes, changing routes and increasing bus size. All of these solutions have worked in the past and are all possibilities that the University and student leaders keep in mind when looking toward the future.
There is no one way to address bus overcrowding, nor is just one solution going to work. We as a university need to come together to find a way to address public transportation problems without hurting students.
Erin Deal is a senior studying applied economics.
This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.