ASUCI Pushes Shuttle Referendum

The Associated Students of UC Irvine has put forward Measure S: Shuttle Initiative on the Spring 2006 election ballots in an effort to raise money for additional funding to expand and ensure maintenance of the UCI shuttle system.
The ASUCI Express Shuttle program transports a number of students, faculty and staff members. Operated by students, the buses transport passengers to and from campus in addition to many other designated stops. It operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday during the fall, winter and spring quarters.
If this referendum is adopted after the 2006 ASUCI spring elections, undergraduate student fees will increase by $8 per quarter in fall 2006. Roughly $320,000 will be raised per year according to current enrollment. Like all referenda, 33 percent of the total revenue goes toward financial aid. The remainder will be allocated for the expenses to four Compressed Natural Gas buses, improved shuttle stops, wheelchair lifts, upgraded routes and capital bus improvements.
It has been a concern that the ASUCI Express Shuttle program is comprised of 15 diesel shuttles, most of which were purchased about 14 years ago.
In addition to this, the South Coast Air Quality Management District only permits a maximum of 15 diesel shuttles on the UCI campus.
Because the ASUCI shuttle lot has already reached this limit, shuttles run by an alternative fuel must be purchased in order to extend the ASUCI Express Shuttle fleet.
If Measure S should pass, ASUCI intends to purchase CNG shuttles that are run by an environment-friendly, clean-burning fossil fuel.
Shuttle riders take over 940,000 trips on the shuttle per academic year. The number of rides made for the upcoming school year is predicted to be over 1.5 million, a number of rides that cannot be efficiently made with the current number of buses, according to supporters of the referendum.
‘As our campus grows, the need for more transportation grows,’ said William King-Lewis, endorsement coordinator and ASUCI chairman of transportation committee for the legislative council. King-Lewis stressed the issue of the constant expansion of our school. Consequently, parking zones are being moved to the outer-lying regions of campus and fewer parking spaces will be available in the more central, preferable parking areas. Therefore, more shuttles are required.
Ryan Sanders, chief of staff for the office of administrative affairs, proposed another upcoming demand for the expansion of ASUCI Express Shuttles. Sanders pointed out that due to increased enrollment in Summer Session, UCI is gradually converting into a four-quarter system where buses will soon have to operate during the summer. In addition, ASUCI is looking into having shuttles run during later hours, as well as on the weekends as the need continues to increase.
‘What’s great about all this is that it is a campuswide effort. … It allows students to come up with new ideas,’ Sanders said in reference to possible future improvement suggestions such as shuttles that transport people to off-campus destinations like Irvine Spectrum or the beach.
This is the best way … and students are in charge,’ King-Lewis said.
In order for the Shuttle Initiative to pass, it must meet the recently revised minimum voter turnout requirement of 20 percent of all undergraduate students. But according to King-Lewis, the problem lies in getting students to even cast ballots. And if the student body should decide to vote, will they have the measure passed?
Students like Michelle Valdeavilla, a fourth-year political science major, plans on supporting the measure.
‘I used to live in Stanford Court, and if shuttles were really going to expand out into further areas, I think it would be convenient and a better form of transportation,’ Valdeavilla said. ‘As long as in the long run it’s environment-friendly, I would be in favor.’
In contrast, an additional tuition increase might not be received well by a majority of the student body, largely due to the various proposed fee-based measures for this upcoming year.
‘I don’t know that it will be beneficial or necessary for our campus since not everyone uses these shuttles,’ said Michelle Ma, a first-year undeclared major.
Many argue that they do not use the shuttles and thereby do not believe the measure pertains to them.
King-Lewis disagreed. ‘It affects everyone,’ King Lewis said. ‘We all breathe the same air.’
ASUCI has now taken an official stance in favor of Measure S: Shuttle Initiative. They are currently campaigning to raise awareness of the shuttle initiative, and are looking for clubs and organizations to endorse the measure.