Leg. Council Update: Week 2

The Legislative Council discusses the current situation and the future of the Anteater Express.

The ASUCI Legislative Council held their weekly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15, where they discussed the issue of filling open seats on the Council, passed legislation R48-22 and ASUCI President Traci Ishigo gave a presentation regarding the future of the Anteater Express.

The Legislative Council currently has several open seats for the School of Social Ecology, Arts, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences, as well as many open seats for Ex Officio (Non-Voting) seats as well. The Council set the application deadline for Friday, Jan. 25 and applications for these positions can be found on the ASUCI website.

The Council moved on to vote on Resolution R48-22 to decide if they were going to cut their meeting one hour shorter on Tuesday, Jan. 22 in order to attend the “Current State of LARC” forum on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. in the Student Center’s Balboa Island Ballroom. This event is open to the public as well and ASUCI  encourages students to attend.

Later in the meeting, Ishigo gave a presentation on the state of the Anteater Express and brought up many potential problems that the program is currently going through such as lack of funds, overcrowding on buses and worries about the future of the program.

The Anteater Express is under ASUCI and independent of the Transportation and Distribution Services. The program currently employs 88 part-time student-workers as well as five full-time employees. The bus fleet consists of 29 buses and the program cost $2,083,301.06 in 2012 while it moved 2,023,562 passengers in the same year, according to ASUCI. Many of these buses will need replacement soon or the whole program will be in jeopardy, said Ishigo during her presentation.

“In a few years, we are going to start replacing our Anteater Express shuttles,” she said. “The life expectancy of transit buses are 10-15 years, and I think ours are around 14 years old, so it’s in dire need.”

The shuttles will cost ASUCI between $350,000 and $400,000, or about $8 million to replace the current fleet, according to ASUCI estimates. This amount far surpasses their yearly budget and so the Anteater Express will need to find a new source of revenue. However there is a fear among ASUCI that some current partners who fund the Anteater Express may pull out of their agreement and cut their funds to the program.

Last year, the Anteater Express had to shut down the route to Newport Beach because of lack of funding. Among the partners in the Anteater Express program, only the American Campus Communities (ACC) has a contract that obliges them to fund the program. The rest of the partners can pull their funds whenever they want. This fact has Ishigo concerned about the future of the program.

“I think my greatest concern is seeing a lack of commitment from our campus partners, a lack of sustainable funding for the Anteater Express, and not really knowing what the future is for the program and not knowing if students will always be able to benefit from the Anteater Express,” Ishigo said.

There was talk of creating a resolution to help pay for the Anteater Express, but there was no action taken — that will likely change in the future.

The issue of funding for the Anteater Express will be discussed in greater detail at the Campus Discussion on the Future of Transportation on February 21. Ishigo believes that the discussion will bring the issue to the student body and allow the students a say in the future of the program.

“I feel like it’s to assess, number one, what do the students want, and number two, what does the administration think is best for our services and plans for students,” Ishigo said.