Public transit for Duquesne now!

Brentaro Yamane | Multimedia Editor | Duquesne University students, like Grace Barrett, benefit from using Pittsburgh Regional Transit.

Kaitlyn Hughes | Staff Writer

With a commuter population of 4,700 students in a major city, it is time Duquesne considers embedding public transit costs within tuition.

According to Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s website, the UPass system was developed to give students attending colleges and universities in Allegheny County the opportunity to utilize public transit at a discounted rate.

There are six universities located within the city of Pittsburgh. Duquesne is the only university that does not give their students the privilege of using PRT services free of charge by including transportation fees in tuition. The university restricts options to monthly invoice statements, payroll deduction or opting to add transit bills to student accounts.

By covering public transit fees within tuition, the university would reduce parking and car related stress. It would also give students greater access to the Pittsburgh community, allowing them to work and volunteer off campus.

At $14 for 2 to 12 hours in the Forbes and Locust parking garages, or $600 for a semester parking pass, the price of parking a car can be prohibitive to many commuter students. They also have to spend excess time and money to maintain their vehicle.

In addition, according to Scott Richards, assistant vice president of auxiliary services, between the Forbes and Locust Garages, the Chatham Garage, campus streets and surface parking lots there are only 3,148 available spots for all 4,700 commuter students. Not to mention campus residents who keep their cars parked on campus.

High parking fees and inability to find a parking space can leave students stressed.

Marlee Richards, a commuter living in the South Side, explained some of the inconveniences she faces with the parking situation.

“You really have to account for traffic. There is a lot of traffic in the mornings,” Richards said. “Sometimes in the parking garage you might not find a spot on a lower floor, so you have to account for time to drive up and look for a spot.”

The time searching for a spot in the garage would be mitigated if students were able to opt for a fare-free ride to campus.

The University of Pittsburgh recognizes the tribulations of parking and urges commuter students to use public transit, only giving parking passes to commuter students with “unique needs,” according to their website.

Students who show up to campus to find a lack of open parking spots are more likely to be late or skip class. If students were able to get off of public transit and directly report to class it would be more convenient to show up.

Duquesne would be wise in joining other universities in the city by deciding to include transportation fees in tuition.

Parking is not the only than issue free access to public transit would work to solve.

It would also relieve stress during times of inclement weather.

On Jan. 19, 2023, Duquesne canceled all classes scheduled before 10 a.m. Due to a snowstorm and fear that commuting students would not be able to attend class. PRT services were still running that morning. If the university ensures that all students have access to public transit, then they may not have to worry about canceling class, which effectively wastes students’ tuition dollars.

The ultimate goal of free public transit is to give Duquesne students an enjoyable, convenient and fulfilling college experience.

A prospective study done in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health researched potential outcomes of giving students in primary through post secondary education in Los Angeles access to free public transport. The benefits found from this study included increased attendance, increased freedom and mobility and increased disposable income.

Some may argue that including transportation would raise Duquesne’s already high-priced tuition, therefore being counterproductive. While this extra charge seems daunting, it would be a useful resource to any student attending Duquesne.

Duquesne students are charged $1.82 by Upass for every ride they take. With 71 days of classes prior to the week of final examinations this would cost students using public transit about $258.44 per semester. According to Pitt’s tuition rates and fees, students are required to pay $260 per year to cover transportation costs. Clearly, Duquesne students are being overcharged.

Another valuable opposing argument is that not all students utilize transportation services throughout the city. However, with free and convenient access to public transit, these students would gravitate toward these services.

If all commuter and non-commuter students had free access to public transit they would be able to explore the diverse areas of Pittsburgh. Whether traveling Downtown for an internship, crossing over to the North Shore for a Steelers or Pirates game or visiting a new restaurant in the South Side, Duquesne students’ experience would be enhanced.

Free public transit would allow students to get on the bus and go to numerous grocery stores located throughout Pittsburgh, ride the incline to explore Mount Washington or visit friends and family around Pittsburgh with less worries.