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Council to consider unlimited bussing agreement with Stanislaus State
university bus passes
Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth rides the bus from downtown Turlock to the campus of Stanislaus State as part of the Try Transit Week in April 2016. The City Council on Tuesday will consider a five-year contract to provide unlimited use of fixed-route bus service to all full-time students in exchange for quarterly payments from Stan State's Associated Students Inc. - photo by Journal file photo

An agreement between Stanislaus State and the City of Turlock could potentially kick off with a year’s worth of free bus passes for students, a perk that will mark the beginning of a five-year contract between both parties to provide more frequent and direct transit services for students in exchange for annual payments to the City.


“We wanted to figure out a way to bring our university up to par to other universities when it comes to transportation,” said Associated Students, Inc. President Nicole Larson, who said that this is an issue ASI Student Government has been working on since spring 2014. “I think this agreement is really going to bring Stan State students from the campus into the community.”


On Tuesday, City Council will consider approving a University Pass Transit Funding Agreement with ASI for a five-year period. During this time, the City will provide unlimited use of fixed-route bus service to all full-time or full-time equivalent students in exchange for quarterly payments totally $90,000 each year, with tiered discounts provided in the first 18 months of the agreement.


Pending the Council’s approval Tuesday, Larson said that ASI and University Student Union have already committed to fully funding the bus passes for the first year.


This agreement is the result of conversations that have occurred over the course of several months between the City and ASI to come up with a transit partnership that would mutually benefit both parties. Through these exchanges, the City heard ASI members’ critiques regarding City transit services to Stanislaus State when it comes to lack of routes, frequency and operating hours. The City not only listened to the concerns of ASI members, but also shared information with them on the status of the City’s Short Range Transit Plan to seek their input on changes and to help better identify priorities for the campus that would be beneficial for students.


The City calculated that an additional $90,000 in revenue, in addition to other projected revenue for Fiscal Year 2016 - 2017, would result in a 20 percent fare box recovery rate, which is the percentage of overall operating costs funded by collected fares.


The agreement is significant in three major ways, according to the City, which said that if approved, it would demonstrate a continued partnership between the City and Stanislaus State, result in a significant boost to the City towards reaching its financial sustainability goal of a 20 percent fare box recovery rate within three years, and demonstrate that value-added partnerships are possible, thus setting the stage for additional agreements with other entities in the future.


“I’ve lived in Turlock my whole life and I’ve always wanted the university to be more instilled in the community,” said Larson. “By having a transit plan that allows students to go back and forth to Monte Vista, downtown, Geer at their convenience, both parties will be benefited mutually. Hopefully this becomes a regular and proud practice. It is extremely beneficial for all parties involved.


“I think it’s really important for our generation to really benefit from public transportation. It’s a right and it should be accessible to everyone,” continued Larson.


ASI members are not the only representatives from Stanislaus State who have advocated for improved access to municipal bus services as political science major Josephine Hazelton, who was the first recipient of the Mayor’s Public Policy Award last year, has worked tirelessly to increase the affordability and convenience of public transportation for Stanislaus State students.


"I'm excited to see the progress that's been made over the past few months in redesigning the bus routes and service hours," said Hazelton in April.


The Turlock City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the City of Turlock Yosemite Room, 156 S. Broadway Avenue.