ASCSU and CSU must foot the bill for increasing Transfort ridership

Erin Douglas

The extended Around the Horn Shuttle and increasing ridership have contributed to the rising cost of Transfort for Colorado State University and the Associated Students of Colorado State University.

Alternative transportation ridership at CSU increased 39.7 percent from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015, according to July 1 to March 31 reporting year data provided by Karl Gannon, Transfort financial analyst for the City of Fort Collins.

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CSU students are granted free access to city buses using their RamCard. (Photo credit: Ryan Arb.)
CSU students are granted free access to city buses using their RamCard. (Photo credit: Ryan Arb.)

CSU and ASCSU must both contribute more money to Transfort when the Denver-Boulder-Greely Consumer Price Index (CPI) and alternative transportation ridership increase simultaneously, according to the contract between Transfort and CSU. The first half of 2015 resulted in a 1 percent increase in CPI.

ASCSU must pay an additional $8,203 for the 1 percent increase in CPI in 2015-2016. The student-led organization will pay a total of $828,434 for students’ alternative transportation in 2015-2016.

ASCSU President Jason Sydoriak was unaware of the increase in funds that would be required this year until about four weeks ago. Due to frequent changes in student administration, ASCSU has a difficult time creating student leverage in negotiations of a three year contract, Sydoriak said.

In response to this issue and due to a desire to expand ASCSU involvement in alternative transportation options, Sydoriak drafted a bill to create an Alternative Transportation Fee Advisory Board (ATFAB) in order to advise the ASCSU president on how to negotiate this contract in the future.

“I was not told anything about (the contract) besides ‘you have to pay for it,'” Sydoriak said. “That’s the beauty of ATFAB, is that we will have this institutional memory with a board who looks through the contract, digests it and provides student leverage.”

Transfort is able to negotiate the “deeply intricate” three-year contract with “incredible expertise and knowledge,” according to the wording of the bill. The bill will go to the senate floor Wednesday.

CSU also increased spending for Transfort. The extended service for the Horn Shuttle caused an increase of about $47,000 in 2014. The increase in CPI ridership caused a 1 percent increase for CSU’s contract as well, which was about equal to $10,000.

The rising cost of parking permits and decreased parking due to construction may explain the increase in ridership in the past year.

“We have been preparing for this for a while,” Gannon said. “I think that (decreased parking) is why CSU opted to increase service levels (of transit).”

The City of Fort Collins provides the largest source of revenue for Transfort — $7.9 million in 2014. Partnership contributions, such as those with CSU, were the second largest source of revenue — $1.2 million. Fares only accounted for about 7 percent of Transfort’s revenue, at about $850,000, Gannon said.

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“A large majority of our riders use some form of period pass, including CSU RamCards,” said Timothy Wilder, the service development manager for Transfort. “The rate of fare evasion has been very low resulting in a minimal impact to Transfort revenues.”

Beginning in January 2016, Transfort will again expand their services for CSU students and the Fort Collins community by offering the FLEX bus to Boulder with limited stops. CSU students, faculty and staff ride the FLEX bus free.

Collegian Reporter Erin Douglas can be reached at news@collegian.com or via Twitter @erinmdouglas23.