The Bus Love Initiative Board announced the cancellation of the Newport Beach Anteater Express route for the upcoming school year.
The route, which was cancelled in 2012-2013 and brought back last year, has failed to see much use from students. It is currently one of the three fee-based routes, along with the Park West/Carlson and the Irvine Spectrum Route.
According to Ryan Gripp, associate director of operations and a member of the board, the Newport Beach route is the most expensive route as well as the least utilized route out of the three paid routes.
The total fees for the 2014-2015 main academic year were $295,771 for Newport Beach, $210,834 for Park West/Carlson and $50,106 for Irvine Spectrum. In total, the three routes cost $556,713. The numbers exclude summer 2014 because the routes do not run during summer sessions.
Based on the data for fall 2014 and winter 2015, the total ridership for Newport Beach was 14,905. ForPark West/Carlson, it was 96,147 and for Irvine Spectrum Route it was 13,373. Although the numbers show that Newport Beach is the second-most utilized route, the route runs five days a week, compared to Irvine Spectrum route, which only runs once a week.
“So in terms of utilization there’s a significant difference. The Newport Route is truly our least utilized route and it is our most expensive route,” Gripp said.
The Newport Beach route charges $2 for a one-way trip, $34 for 18 rides, and $90 for a quarterly unlimited pass.
According to Gripp, the board has not yet made plans regarding the funds that would be freed up upon cancellation of the route.
The board sent out their annual online survey last week. The survey results will be used to see students’ opinions on where they would like the Bus Love funds to go for the 2015-2016 year. Choices included reducing overcrowding on current routes, extending times of bus service later into the evening, weekend bus service, bus stop renovations, services to athletic events and new buses.
Parshan Khosravi, the organizing director for the Office of the ASUCI Executive Vice President and ASUCI president-elect, said that discussion around the Newport route has been a long, ongoing discussion. The route was first created to meet students’ demands for a shuttle to Newport Beach. Once it took effect, however, the route was not well-used.
During the spring 2013 elections, students passed the Bus Love Initiation, which funded the resurrection of the Newport Route. Currently, students pay $16 a quarter to fund the initiative. Next year, the fee will go up to $24 a quarter.
According to Khosravi, the fee will also be going into plans for three goals: fleet replacement, disability services and route expansion.
The shuttles can operate optimally for 12 years. Most of the current shuttles are said to be over the age limit and are in need of constant repair.