As the fall semester begins, students have been signing up and purchasing PCC’s new transit pass despite complaints about a significant hike in the price.Student Life Dean Rebecca Cobb addressed the Associated Students executive board last Wednesday about the sales of Metro’s Universal College Student Transit Pass, known as U-PASS, and student opinions that have come with it.
The U-PASS now gives students with eight or more units access to both Metro and Foothill transit services. Unfortunately, the expiration dates for both Metro and Foothill transit rideshares are different, with Metro ending in February (which covers the 2017 winter intersession), and Foothill ending after the fall semester.
There are about 2,000 students that have signed up for the U-PASS, with passes already sold to about 1,500 full-time students taking advantage of the deal within the first two weeks of this semester, according to data provided by Cobb.
However, the purchase of the U-PASS was met with criticism. According to Cobb, she received many emails from students complaining about the price of the U-PASS, which is $95.
Complaints are coming from full-time students who were paying for the Institutional Transit Access Pass (I-TAP) card last semester for $30. The contract PCC had with Metro for that deal ended May 31.
Yet despite such complaints, sales of the pass are progressing at a promising rate, according to Cobb.
“The overwhelming majority of students purchasing the U-PASS are still students with 12 units,” Cobb said. “Overwhelming.”
This is the pilot year for the U-PASS program, and in the upcoming Spring 2017 semester Cobb will look at the data to see how well the program has done.
“We’re trying to work out the kinks,” Cobb said while acknowledging the past issues with Metro.
Despite those “kinks,” one of the benefits students are pleased with is that they’re required to use their ID to get it. It’s a sticker that goes on your ID so no one but the buyer can use it.
“I feel like using this one (U-PASS) is more secure because it’s on my school ID,” business administration student Vanessa Rosales said.
According to Rosales, one of the problems in the past with the I-TAP cards was that full-time students were able to purchase them and sell it to part-time students.
“For example, for someone who was a part-time student and needed the I-TAP, and someone (like myself) who was a full-time student, and I didn’t need it, they could get me to buy it for them,” Rosales said. “That’s what people would do, not really for that much of a profit. But now with this (U-PASS) you need your ID.”
During the first week of school, all students who were enrolled in eight units and above were sent an email telling them to purchase the U-PASS as well. Since then, there was an increase in the number of part-time students purchasing them.
According to Cobb, the school typically sells an average of 3,500 student transit passes during the entire semester. This semester, Cobb is hoping to sell about 4,000 passes.
With close to 2,000 passes being sold, if the goal isn’t met, there’s a possibility that the price for the U-PASS may drop a bit while staying in the parameters of what’s affordable for the school to support.
“So far we’re on track,” Student Affairs Advisor Carrie Afuso said.
Sales will end on Sept. 23, giving students until next friday to purchase their passes.