The Anteater Express’s W Line, an East Campus route which services the Park Place and Toscana Apartments among other communities, will be permanently cancelled at the end of spring quarter 2018.
The cancellation comes after an undisclosed “campus partner” discontinued financial support for the route, totaling over $307,000 for the 2018 fiscal year. In previous years, the campus partner agreed to fund the cost of the entire route and in turn receive back all fare revenue for that specific route only. According to Annie Downey, assistant operations manager for the Anteater Express, the cancellation was “an internal decision that did not involve [the Anteater Express] department.” She declined to name the “campus partner” in question.
Like all East Campus bus routes, the W Line is not funded through student fees, but “operates by a ‘pay-to-play’ model whereby service recipients pay for the transportation they are provided,” said Downey. Prices are currently $3 for a one-way ride, $36 for an 18-ride card, and $100 per quarter for an unlimited pass. This is the fare revenue returned back to the campus partner.
Some students living in off-campus apartments serviced by the W Line are upset by the cancellation and worried about finding similarly affordable transportation. ASUCI’s Housing Security Commission released a statement on Jan. 17 “unequivocally opposing” the cancellation, calling the W Line “a critical transportation service that provides an alternative for students who cannot afford to own a car.”
“Officials at UC Irvine should be actively working to support all students,” the statement reads. “Budgeting money away from crucial off-campus transportation services for students is a cruel statement of values that does not represent student priorities of affordable and accessible transportation and housing.”
Cassius Rutherford, the Housing Security commissioner and co-author of the statement, noted that though a brief statement was posted on the Anteater Express website on Jan. 13, the W Line was cancelled “without even an email blast to all students, let alone those who use the route.” He hopes that Anteater Express officials will more effectively communicate with students who use the W Line and work to increase funding for off-campus transportation options.
In the meantime, Downey recommends that students seeking an alternative to the W Line use OC bus routes 59, 79, 167, 213, 473 and 178 or purchase a University Pass available through UCI Transportation and Distribution Services.
According to Downey, no other lines are in jeopardy of being cut in the near future. The W Line’s last day of operation will be June 15, 2018, the Friday of spring finals week.