The University of Alaska Fairbanks student government announced via Facebook the end of a partnership which allowed students to ride borough buses for free.
Previously, students and staff enrolled at UAF were able to show their university ID to ride the MACS transit bus system for free as part of a university contract with the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Some of the buses had routes that included stops at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.
Buses will still make stops at campus, according to university Spokeswoman Marmian Grimes, but the university made the decision not to renew the contract in collaboration with the Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, or ASUAF. Students can reach out the student government to communicate transportation needs.
“ASUAF is going to be gathering student input and sharing that with the university,” Grimes said.
The free rideshare will end effective Thursday due to budget uncertainty, according to the Tuesday afternoon Facebook post, which was a message signed by Bernard Aoto, student body president.
“While this program was a valuable service for many UAF students, faculty and staff, the distortion of accurate data regarding student utilization as well as the inability to afford the contract with the Borough led the group to decide that we could not renew the contract,” Aoto’s message reads.
Grimes explained that the contract with the borough was previously paid for through a combination of university funds and a Review of Infrastructure, Sustainability and Energy Board sustainability fee. The RISE board is an ASUAF entity which was created in order to propose how to use funding from the sustainability fee students pay each year.
“The university was paying about $100,000 a year for the agreement that allowed that to happen. Part of that, for the last couple of years, was paid via the sustainability fee that students put in place several years ago, but the RISE Board let the university know that they’re not able to cover that expense anymore,” she said.
The Facebook post indicates university facility services will be expanding shuttle services for the fall semester in order to offer students transportation.
“It’s too early to say exactly what the shuttle service could look like,” Grimes said. She added that whatever options the university can offer will have to be evaluated in the context of the university’s budget situation.
Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMlocal.