PCC’s popular Institutional Transit Access Pass (ITAP) program, which allowed students access to all Metro services throughout the semester for a one-time $30 fee, has expired May 31.
In a Board of Directors meeting May 26 Metro voted to replace the old program, which was designed to increase student ridership while remaining revenue neutral, with the new Universal College Student Transit Pass (U-PASS) pilot program.
U-PASS, like I-TAP before it, provides access to both Metro and Foothill Transit services.
Under this new program, possibly beginning Fall 2016, students with eight or more units will be able to purchase a tamper proof transit chip, like the ones used in regular TAP cards, that attaches to their student ID for no more than $43 per month.
PCC is currently reviewing a plan to provide students with U-PASS chips for $85 per semester. The plan, although more expensive than the previous I-TAP program, would save students with 12 or more units over $200 every academic year and would save students with between eight and 11 units over $700 every academic year compared to the monthly bus passes offered by Metro.
The proposal would cost around $250,000 from the Student Activity Fee fund, the same amount allocated to the previous I-TAP program.
“Any more than that is not sustainable from the Student Activity Fee,” Dean of Student Life Rebecca Cobb wrote in an email.
However the plan does not fund the winter intersession, meaning the school may have to pay for students using the U-PASS chip during winter intersession at a cost of $0.79 per boarding.
According to Cobb, funding the passes throughout winter intersession could cost anywhere between $10,000 and $70,000.
Additionally, students will have to purchase their pass by the third week of school in order to take advantage of the offer.
Because U-PASS is a one-year pilot program with an option to renew for an additional year, there is flexibility to experiment with the parameters as the program moves forward, including the possibility of lowering the eligibility requirement to just six units if the program does well in the first six months.
The change from ITAP to U-PASS is a result of the initial program far exceeding its costs, according to Metro, which claims it must receive $0.74 every boarding to remain revenue neutral.
According to Metro, with the ITAP program PCC paid on average just $0.28 per boarding in fiscal year 2014, and $0.27 in fiscal year 2015. The per boarding figures may be so low because students with ITAP were able to use their cards without restriction for the entire semester – on weekends, to the movies, at the beach – driving up boarding totals.
Any proposal will have to go through Associated Students and administration approval.
If an agreement isn’t reached, the school will look into Class Pass, a program used by Mt. San Antonio College which provides students with at least one unit access to Foothill Transit services for a fee.
“Right now we are trying to find the best, sustainable solution for the students and the [c]ollege,” Cobb said.
This story has been corrected as it originally claimed students with fewer than eight units would see a savings. We deeply regret this mistake. All figures have been corrected and the article has been updated with additional information.