UFV students push to extend shuttle bus service

University of the Fraser Valley students will vote in October on increasing their bus fee to expand new shuttle bus service.

Less than one month since the campus shuttle bus launched, University of the Fraser Valley students have agreed to return to referendum to significantly expand service.

Already the new Campus Connector shuttle service completes over 1,200 passenger trips weekly through its two buses.

In fact, it is so popular that the bus fills up at some point every day – especially the early morning services – and students are left stranded, according to Student Union Society president Shane Potter. For example, there were 22 students turned away during the week Sept. 16–20, 2013.

The Student Union Society will soon launch a referendum to fund one additional bus Monday to Thursday, later runs on Friday on existing buses, and start up a summer semester shuttle.

Students already pay $6.75 fee annually for the Campus Connector.

They will have to nearly triple that to $17.75 annually to fund the service expansion.

“This call for more demand, it comes right out of the students. I get emailed, called, and Tweeted, and Facebooked, every single day with students that are relying upon the service to get from one campus to another,” said Potter.

He added that students from other municipalities, such as Langley and Surrey, are also arriving in Abbotsford and relying on the Campus Connector to get to the Chilliwack campus.

According to Jody Gordon, vice-president of student services, it took Kwantlen Polytechnic University over 18 months to reach UFV’s ridership figures when Kwantlen introduced its own shuttle bus to move students between the Langley and Surrey campuses.

UFV’s Campus Connector was approved as a one-year pilot project by the university starting Sept. 3, 2013. If students support an expansion of service next month, that would be a strong message to the administration that students want to extend the shuttle service beyond its first year, said Gordon.

Last week, the Fraser Valley Regional District green-lighted a BC Transit express bus to connect Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley potentially as early as Sept. 2014.

The planned express bus will not have an immediate impact on the UFV shuttle. When an operational start date is confirmed, UFV will reassess its own shuttle service.

“We have to make sure that they’re able to provide a level of service that meets the demands of our students…There’s still a lot of uncertainty as to when it will start, what it will look like,” said Potter.

Gordon echoed the sentiment on behalf of the university.

“Staff and faculty are utilizing the shuttle service with the university’s contribution. I don’t see that staff and faculty will necessarily go and replace that with public transit, because this is a dedicated door-to-door service.”

SUS member students will vote online in the final week of October on the proposal to expand the Campus Connector shuttle service.

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