In the last student election, Dons were asked to vote on a BART discount program. The proposition was one of the more controversial things we voted on this year. It passed by less than a two percent margin, and the program will increase each undergraduates student’s transportation fee by $30. And in return? Discounted BART travel. No, not free like our Muni passes. Discounted, by 25 percent. And not from every stop; you can only make use of this deal from Powell BART station. Not Civic Center, not Montgomery. Only Powell. Thirty dollars was added to our transportation fee, all for 25 percent off trips on BART from not even all the stations.
Say you’re a student who flies in and out of SFO to get to USF from home. You want to save some money and BART back into the city. Student discount or not, BART is still cheaper than taking an Uber. One ticket from Powell to SFO is $8.95. Subtract 25 percent of that. You’re left paying $6.71 for a one way ticket. That’s $2.24 saved. Except, not really…remember that $30 you’re paying to USF now? You would have to BART to or from the airport over 13 times just to get your money’s worth from the additional spike in the transportation fee.
Taking BART to and from Berkeley is even worse. You’d have to BART to and from there 30 times to take full advantage of the added $30 in your transportation fee.
To assume that the only students taking BART are ones going to Berkeley for fun or traveling to SFO is wrong. There are undergraduates students who live in the East Bay and take BART to get to classes. However, this number is small. And of that number, the percentage that use BART daily is even smaller. Is such a steep increase in our transportation fee worth it if such a small amount of undergrads would make use of it? I don’t think so.
Even further, USF should be negotiating plans with the city for student housing, not supplementing the problem of students having to commute because they can’t afford or can’t find housing by USF. Undergraduates are already moving farther and farther away from campus. Sixty percent of USF students live off campus. USF should be putting resources towards affordable housing by campus, not the travel that we have to make because there is no housing to begin with. I don’t want to see USF become a commuter school just because students can’t afford to live close to it.
In short, the BART discount program had good intentions. But for $30, we should get more than just a 25 percent discount. I’d like to see more propositions on the ballot about affordable housing, not a Band-Aid fix on our housing problem.
Photo Credit: Eric Fischer/ Flickr