Foothill students push to vote for Eco Pass2 min read

Nathan Mitchell

Foothill College will vote between Jan. 28 and Jan. 31 on approving an Eco Pass program modeled after De Anza College.
The proposition institutes a mandatory quarterly fee of up to $5 for full-time students in exchange for unlimited ridership on most of the Valley Transit Authority’s buses and light rail lines, according to Foothill’s webpage.
The Associated Students of Foothill College will announce the election results this February.
They are busy with last-minute marketing and posters, said Jake Arnet, student and administrative manager at the Foothill Entrepreneur Center.
The Associated Students surveyed about 700 students during spring 2011, he said. The results were “very favorable,” with about 70 to 80 percent approving the Eco Pass measure.
De Anza approved the Eco Pass proposition in fall 2011 by a vote of 985-124, according to the  De Anza webpage.
Marshall Chan, a Foothill engineering major, hopes the proposition passes.
“A $5 increase is a reasonable price for it,” even for the students that won’t use it, he said.
Uyen Nguyen, 21, a De Anza graphic design major, uses her Eco Pass almost every day. Her friends at Foothill often talk about the college’s traffic, which an Eco Pass program may alleviate.
Jay Yu, 21, economics major, didn’t mind paying the extra fee despite not using the bus service.
“Some of my friends take the bus – many people don’t have cars,” said Yu. Besides, “it’s only $5.”
VTA ridership had a good response to De Anza passing its program, said Brandi Childress, media spokesperson for the transit authority.
“We experienced overcrowding on Line 23 and needed
another transit line option to meet demand,” she said. Line 23 connects De Anza and downtown San Jose.
The number of bus riders on an average September weekday increased about 6.7 percent from 2010 to 2011, and an additional 5.7 percent increase the following year, according to the VTA.
Despite the overall favorable student opinion toward an Eco Pass program, Arnet expects few will immediately switch from driving to using VTA services.
“I don’t anticipate an immediate increase,” he said, “because people are habitual.”
About 25.2 percent of
De Anza students ordered an Eco Pass during fall 2012, according to the De Anza website, that’s a 2.3 percent increase from the number of orders placed the year before.