The Anteater Express Referendum

The Anteater Express Referendum is some of the best news I have heard in a long time.  With all this talk of limiting certain routes or even canceling them entirely, news of possible future improvements to the shuttle system comes as a much needed breath of fresh air.

The referendum itself details a pretty basic proposal: charge students a little more every quarter in order to have the funds necessary to maintain and (hopefully) improve the shuttle system that many of them will use every day to get to and from campus.

The Anteater Express is in trouble.  It’s already lost a lot of funding recently, resulting in the impending cancellations of the Newport Beach and Parkwest-Carlson routes.  With a growing ridership (estimated to be almost 2 million riders for the 2011-2012 year) and a dwindling pool of resources, the Anteater Express needs cash desperately.  And this is where we come in.

The referendum proposes that $8 be added to the quarterly fees for the next two years.  In effect, this means that a student who attends only fall, winter and spring quarters would have to pay an extra $24 for the 2012-2013 year, and an extra $48 for the 2013-2014 year, and an extra $72 for the 2014-2015 year.

For the sake of argument, I’m going to ignore the fact that I am graduating this year and will not be attending UCI during the years that these proposed fee increases are due to begin.  I’ll just pretend that I’ll still be going, or better yet, I’ll pretend that I live on campus — say, in Middle Earth, perhaps — and while the shuttle isn’t always part of my everyday commute, it’s a nice thing to have around, especially if I want to go grocery shopping or to the beach.  You know, fun stuff like that.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: the cost.  Really, this fee increase is nothing to complain about.  In fact, we should be rejoicing that at least some of the bags of money that we pay this school will be set aside to maintaining and improving something that is of direct benefit to us highly mobile students: the network of shuttles that get us where we need to go.

This money isn’t going to line the pockets of some obscure faculty member or chair of some department you’ve never heard of before; it’s going to be used to keep that bus that gets you to class every day running on time.

If you live off campus and this doesn’t sound like a good use of your money, just set this paper down for a moment and imagine having to walk all the way to and from campus.  Every day you have class.  All quarter.  Now ask yourself, “Is the shuttle service that I now enjoy worth a measly extra $8 every 10 weeks?”

And really, $8 is a small drop in the bucket compared to the many, many other buckets of money I’ve already poured into this school just so I can get my degree and move on to medical school.

If, after all of this, you’re still mad that you may have to pay an extra $8 a quarter (10 whole weeks, people), just think of it like this: that’s not even the price of two cups of coffee from Starbucks.  If you can go without those two cups of coffee over 10 weeks, then you can do your part to support the Anteater Express Initiative and keep this amazing service running.

If you don’t, you may soon be forced to walk to campus to get your over-priced cup of coffee.

Spencer Grimes is a fourth-year English major. He can be reached at sgrimes@uci.edu.