by Alicia Dye | staff writer
April 28, 2022
The Student Government Association (SGA) announced new and updated transportation options for students during a meeting in the Duquesne University Law School on Sunday.
They include the South Side Shuttle, the Loop Bus and a new bus pass system with the Port Authority. The latter will not be free for students, which is raising questions and leaving students frustrated.
During the last SGA meeting of the 2021-2022 academic school year, it was revealed by Assistant Vice President for Auxiliary Services, Scott Richards, that the South Side Shuttle would be free for students starting in fall of 2022.
“The current fee for the [South Side] shuttle will be eliminated and absorbed by the university,” Richards said during the meeting.
The Loop Bus program will be returning for the 2022-2023 academic year after being gone for the 2021-2022 academic year. There will be at least three routes, which have not been determined yet, Richards said.
The biggest news that Richards announced is a new bus pass system, something the university and the Port Authority have been working on together for the last couple of months, he said.
The new bus system would be an opt-in system that offers a discounted rate. The current cost for Port Authority riders is $2.75 for unlimited rides/transfers within a three-hour time frame. With the new bus pass, Duquesne students would pay $1.75 per ride.
At a Q&A over the weekend about the new transportation system, many students brought up how many other universities in the area, such as University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon and more get ‘free busing’ from Port Authority.
In response, “[Duquesne] University does not want to add more charges to students’ billing. We do not want to raise tuition even more for students,” Richards said. “We want to give students the option to pay for the bus system if they choose to.”
If students choose to opt-in to the new bus system, they will have to download the Port Authority’s ‘ready2ride’ app and create a new account using their Duquesne email. The official logistics of how the system will work are still unknown.
Students will be billed monthly if they choose to use the bus pass system. At the start of every month, students who have used the bus pass system will be billed for each time they use it. For example, if a student used the system five times a week for the month, at the end of the month they will be billed $34.80 to their student account.
Students would be unable to get a discount on any other type of pass, including the monthly passes, and students would be unable to use a Connectcard with the new bus pass system.
SGA President Jessica Schmitz has wanted to get some type of bus pass for students since she joined SGA.
“We would always hear from students that there was a lack of transportation, and we wanted to change that,” Schmitz said. “Our issue was that we were always told that bus passes were something that couldn’t happen because we’re a private university, but President [Ken] Gormley was very receptive and helped us.”
Schmitz wants students to know and use the new bus pass system.
“We’re spreading the word now so everyone knows about it,” said Schmitz. “We didn’t want to pass the cost off to students and we’re trying to show that.”
However, students felt like that is exactly what is happening with the bus pass system.
Freshman Celia Haupt does not like the new system and its cost.
“It’s stupid. Cost of attendance for Duquesne is almost $70,000. What is that paying for?” Haupt said. “Almost every other college in the city has a free bus pass, even Carnegie Mellon, another private university. CMU’s cost of attendance is similar to ours, and they get the bus pass.”
Lei’asha Battle, a freshman, worries about the out-of-pocket cost.
“Many were saying it [bus pass system] was going to be free, and the fact that it isn’t worries me,” Battle said. “I’m here on a full scholarship, so I have no out-of-pocket costs. The bus pass system would give me something I would have to pay out of pocket, and my scholarship wouldn’t cover it.”
Battle did ask Richards during the meeting if her full ride could also pay for the bus pass system, but Richards was unsure.
“If they can absorb the cost for the Loop bus and the South Side shuttle, why can’t they do the same for this?” Haupt said.
Many students still have questions and concerns about the new Bus Pass system. Schmitz encourages students to reach out with any questions or concerns they have to SGA at email@example.com.