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Student senate pushes for Eco Pass

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Last year the Striving Toward a New Direction coalition called for the Valley Transit Authority to strike a deal with the Foothill – De Anza District that would provide year-long Eco Passes for each De Anza student. According to the VTA website, it plans to create a new rapid transit bus line that would begin at Eastridge mall, continue to Alum Rock transit center, go through downtown and then down Stevens Creek Boulevard to De Anza, making limited stops on the way. 

This line would cut the trip from two hours and 10 minutes to close to an hour flat. Funding for the passes would come from a mandatory fee between $2 and $5 added to each student’s enrollment costs. The money will come from the 2008 electoral decision to pass Proposition 1B and Measure A. However, negotiations sodden with bureaucracy have slowed progress.

According to the VTA, the Eco Pass is a means to take more cars off of the road, and to lessen overcrowding in parking lots. In past talks, they have been reluctant to allow the Eco Pass due to pricing issues.  

It would not be financially responsible to purchase Eco Passes from the VTA, since the majority of students who currently use public transit are not full time or are a large enough population to benefit the larger student body, Vice President of Finance and Educational Resources Letha JeanPierre said. 

“De Anza students need to voice their opinion about the transportation fee. The only way the DASB can fully know if a bus program is needed is if students get involved in the discussion,” former Vice President of Campus Enviroment and sustainability Keith Hubbard said. “They [VTA] don’t feel students need it because De Anza is a commuter school and not enough people would use it. Only 1,000 out of nearly 30,000 students take the bus to and from De Anza.” 

Jennifer Lau, a nursing major, said the Eco Pass would be a godsend. “It’s a very attractive deal. It would be very economic for everyone who spends $70 a month to take the bus. And more people would take the buses if they had year passes. Everyone in my family rides the bus so I spend about $200 a month, so paying anything less would save my family money,” she said. 

“For people coming from downtown  San Jose and the south side of San Jose, it really wouldn’t make much of a difference in commute time. Also, how can we say we’re trying to save the air when we keep putting more buses on the road?” massage therapy major Michelle Gibbs asked. “In this economy we have enough to pay for like books and student fees. It would be unfair to those who already drive. I don’t think it would reduce the number of cars on the road because people are too comfortable in their personal cars. If I had a car I would be driving.” 

Some students, like undecided major Rachel Sai, offered suggestions on how to move the negotiations with the VTA along. “It would be a better idea for students to apply for the Eco Passes rather than having one issued to everybody,” she said.

The decision for the Eco Pass hinges on the cooperation between the De Anza administration and the rapid transit lines, which won’t be put into effect until 2014. If students get involved in the issue, “perhaps our grandkids will experience a valuable transportation to De Anza,” Hubbard said.

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