Students speak out on transportation issues with the University GPE shuttle busses

Written by Ceylin Arias/Staff writer

According to the University’s Parking and Transportation website, there is a wide range of options for students in need of transportation between MMC and the satellite campuses BBC and Engineering center, as well as for those looking to explore outside the University.

The Golden Panther Express, the University’s most widely used shuttle for students and faculty alike, “provides an alternative to driving between FIU’s main campuses: Modesto A. Maidique campus and Biscayne Bay campus,” according to FIU’s Transit website.

Though the GPE shuttle provides a wide range of services during a student’s commute, including free Wi-Fi, installed security cameras on the shuttles in order to insure and enhance student, staff and faculty safety, many students share the concern that the pricing of the bus fare is something to take into consideration before attempting to use the GPE shuttle.

“It doesn’t make sense for me to be paying for a trip to the other campus when it even says on your tuition payment that if you pay a small fee for transportation, you are covered for the semester and you certainly don’t see that with this bus,” said Sandro Alvarez, a sophomore communication arts major.

Currently, students pay $2.50 and non-students and affiliates pay $5.00. Included in FIU student’s tuition is, however, a transportation fee of approximately $90. Melissa Gonzalez, a sophomore biology major, expresses her concerns regarding the strain paying for fare between both campuses is causing her financially.

According to the Parking and Transportation website, “A Parking and Transportation Access Fee is assessed to all students per semester as part of their enrollment. This fee funds maintenance of parking facilities, sidewalks, garages, emergency call boxes, bicycle rack program, lighting, etc.” Gonzalez, however, does not seemed convinced.

“If that’s true, why are students paying to use a service that should be free? I don’t get where the money we pay at the beginning of the semester goes. Is that “fee” we pay even being used for parking and transportation necessities because it doesn’t seem like it,” continued Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is not the only student feeling troubled by the expense that comes along with using one of FIU’s transportation, however. “I understand that the driver needs to have a monetary incentive, but the fact that I have to pay extra for a bus that should have been covered by my tuition payment should be non-existent,” said Alvarez.

In fact, other public universities such as the University of Central Florida and University of Florida offer free shuttles services to its students. UCF has gone so far as to provide a “Knight Flight,” which is a free shuttle bus from the UCF main campus to Orlando International Airport (MCO) before seasonal breaks including Thanksgiving break, Winter break, and Spring break, a service FIU does not offer.

“I honestly can’t wrap my head around this. This shouldn’t even be something that we, as students, should have to pay for. There’s plenty of universities that offer bus and shuttle services for free. What’s so different about them? Why is it taking FIU forever to do the same?” said Gonzalez.

According to a previous Student Media article from October 2015, “FIU does not own the shuttles, but rents charter vehicles from Academy, a private transportation company originally based in New Jersey.”

“We hired Academy bus,” said Thomas Hartley, executive director of the Department of Parking and Transportation. “That’s what the cost of providing the service is. If you charged everybody who rode, you’d have to charge everybody $5. But students get it at $2.50 because the other $2.50 comes from student fees,” according to the article.

Photo Courtoisie of Creative Commons.

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