Will students pass the buck?3 min read

De Anza weighs election ballot initiative to provide free VTA transportation, results this Wednesday

Stacy Lane

In an effort to help reduce student expenses and curb global warming, the De Anza Associated Student Body Senate has proposed an initiative to provide every full-time student with an Eco Pass, a special Valley Transportation Authority Pass that allows unlimited use of VTA buses and light rail.

The initiative was placed on last week’s DASB election ballot for the approval of full-time students, who would see a $5 increase in their registration fees should the initiative pass.

The results of the election are expected this Wednesday.

A similar system is already in place at San Jose State University, and students there say they find it to be useful.

“I love it,” says Grace Rosenthal, a student at SJSU. “I just sit back on the way to school, and I don’ t have to pay for gas.”

The upcoming vote seeks approval from students to implement the fee, and does not actually ensure that the Eco Pass will take effect.

Students voted on the initiative during this election because the senate wants to implement the Eco Pass system as soon as possible, and wants to avoid having to wait until next year’s elections to hold a student plebiscite.

However, details for a deal with VTA are not yet in place. According to John Cognetta, director of College Life and Activities, if students approve the fee, a formal contract with VTA will need to be drafted, a formal proposal will have to be presented to the vice president of Student Services and the Foothill-De Anza Community College District board will need to approve the fee increase.

The Eco Pass will be available to full-time students only. Students enrolled in at least 12 units are considered full time.

“We have negotiated with VTA on this, but they are reluctant give the pass to part-time students,” said DASB Senator Yujin Yoshimura.

VTA’s refusal to allow part-time students to have a pass stems from their concerns regarding abuse of privileges.

At $5 a pass, VTA is losing money on the venture. Their concern is that riders dependent on public transportation will enroll in the minimum number of classes just to procure the Eco Pass.

“We would work with VTA to minimize this [abuse],” said Jeanine Hawk, vice president of Finance and College Services. No specific plans are in place yet.

Even with the possibility of abuse, the benefits of the Eco Pass, both for De Anza students and VTA are hard to ignore.

VTA would be guaranteed approximately $140,000 annually in funds, and students would have the benefit of alternate transportation, which would reduce the amount of money they spend on gas.

Added to this is the possibility of having a positive effect on the environment. By placing cheap and easy access to mass transit in the hands of students, De Anza hopes to take more cars off the road.

“As we all know, it will take contributions from all of us to reverse carbon dioxide omissions and their deadly effects,” said Hawk. “We must all act.”

By placing the initiative on the upcoming ballot, the DASB hopes that students will do just that.

Stacy Lane is a staff reporter for La Voz. Contact her at [email protected]