Student Senate passes resolution in opposition to transit fare increases

Eau Claire City Council will vote on the proposed increases this evening

More stories from Rachyl Houterman


Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

As part of a contract with City Council, UW-Eau Claire students pay $44 a year in segregated fees to use the transit system.

Student Senate passed a resolution Monday in opposition of the Eau Claire City Council’s proposed bus fare increase. Council approved the increase Tuesday evening on the proposal.

The increase is as much as 25 percent for certain fares or passes, according to a public notice from the Eau Claire Transit Commission in August.

The price hikes are due to “increasing expenses,” according to the public notice. They will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

“The main reason, essentially, is to lessen the amount of transit share in the general purpose revenue, general fund for the city in order to free up more money for other things” said Nick Webber, the student body vice president.

It is expected the proposed increases would bring in an extra $48,700, but at the expense of ridership, which would see a decline of about 31,000 rides in the next year, according the Leader-Telegram.

The last time bus fares increased was in 2009 by 50 percent. Jeremy Gragert, who serves on the Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance and Wisconsin Riders Transit Alliance, wrote a Leader-Telegram opinion piece that stated ridership has declined from about 1,000,000 rides in 2008 to about 915,000 rides in 2016.

Students currently pay $44 per year for transit, which is included in their segregated fees. It is unclear how much this fee would increase, if at all, if the budget is passed.

The university has a contract with the city in which students and faculty are able to ride the bus, provided they show their school IDs. An increase in the student pass price could be possible if the contract is renegotiated next year, Student Body President Katy McGarry said.

The last time fees increased for UW-Eau Claire students was 2013.

About 235,500 rides were provided to just UW-Eau Claire students in 2017 as of October, according to data from the Eau Claire Transit Commission.

Senator Hillary Smith said she was in support of the resolution, citing accessibility and affordability as a key proponent of her vote.

“I think the evidence in front of us is pretty clear that raising the transit fares is not beneficial to the people who are riding the buses,” Smith said.

Senator Bobbi Freagon was also in support of the resolution because she said an increase in fares would deter people from using the transit system.  

“I think that increasing this fare would take away this awesome resource that our city does have from people who need it the most,” Freagon said.

The resolution passed in a placard vote.

Other news

Senate tabled a resolution in recognition of Blugold Veterans after a student veteran in open forum called the resolution “insincere” and “half-hearted.” The student said he didn’t understand how Senate could pass the resolution without thorough communication with veterans on campus.

Next week Senate will vote on a special allocation bill for Colleges Against Cancer.

This article was updated after new information was received.