New $20 UH-Manoa student fee to cover bus rides for semester


POSTED: Friday, November 20, 2009

Starting in January, University of Hawaii-Manoa students will pay a new mandatory $20-per-semester transportation fee.

The fee will allow UH-Manoa students with valid student identification to have unlimited rides on TheBus for the five-month semester.

Students now have the option to buy a $125 U-pass valid for the current semester. The regular monthly bus pass is $50.

The idea is to encourage students to ride the bus to campus and avoid the cost of gas and $5 daily parking fee, thereby reducing traffic, said Francisco Hernandez, UH-Manoa vice chancellor of students.

The two-year pilot project, approved yesterday by the Board of Regents and Wednesday by the City Council, will generate about $400,000 per semester.

Medical and law school students will not be participating in the program. If successful, the pilot project could be expanded to other UH campuses.

James Burke, chief of the Public Transit Division at the city, said the city has added bus service from West Oahu to UH-Manoa in anticipation of the new fee.

If student ridership increases and there is enough demand, Burke said the city will also consider expanding bus service to downtown and Waikiki from UH-Manoa.

One possible new route would be between Kapiolani Community College and UH-Manoa. The city will also look at a Waikiki route through Kapahulu Avenue, something community members have also pushed for.

The city will use some of the money from the transportation fee to hire UH-Manoa student interns who will work for the university and evaluate the program and look at the feasibility of new routes.

The university will also be able to put advertising placards on the bus on unsold space.

UH-Manoa seniors Henry Chang and Kiara Sakamoto told the regents the idea for the transportation fee was generated by students and is supported by students. They said the student government has been working on getting the fee for the last three years.