Student fees go toward new transportation projects

Corbin Reiter

Getting around Colorado State University has continually been made easier, safer and more eco-friendly thanks to student fees given to the Alternative Transportation Fee Advisory Board. 

ATFAB has been a separate organization from the Associated Students of CSU for three years. ATFAB manages the $2 million Transfort contract and holds Transfort accountable through annual meetings to discuss performance, and this contract makes up a bulk of ATFAB’s expenses and a majority of the student fees paid, said Aaron Fodge, manager of alternative transportation at CSU.

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Through the contract with Transfort, students are able to ride any public transportation within Fort Collins, as well as have access to the FLEX bus, which travels from the Fort Collins transit center to Boulder. The FLEX bus will begin new routes of operation, including a bus that travels to Greeley, Fodge said.

“Three academic years ago, the Student Fee Review Board elected to give this committee an annual allotment of $250,000 for the purpose of awarding transportation-related projects,” Fodge said.

This investment has been partnered with an investment from the University, Parking and Transportation Services and CSU Housing and Dining Services, Fodge said.

Fees totaling $33.65 are paid by students each semester in order to provide ATFAB with the funds they need. The cost of the Transfort contract and the $250,000 of investment money is added together and divided by the anticipated number of enrolled students to determine how much each person must pay, Fodge said.

ATFAB awards money to projects in the spring, the fee is collected in the first semester and the second part is collected in the second semester. As money is given to ATFAB through student fees, the projects that they have chosen to fund can start, Fodge said.

In the past, ATFAB has also used its allotment of student fees to fund The Spoke, SkiSU, Rams Ride Right and e-bikes for campus police officers, said Kalyn O’Byrne, a member of ATFAB.

The funding provided to ATFAB has been used to continue recurring projects, as well as larger developmental ones, said Jacob Sappwood, a member of ATFAB. 

ATFAB manages two pools of money, one for the Transfort contract and the other for awarding to projects every year, Fodge said.

ATFAB has opened applications for its 2019-20 transportation project proposals. These proposals can use funds provided by ATFAB to make improvements to the alternate transportation systems around campus, Fodge said.

The $250,000 is awarded to proposals that meet the expectations of ATFAB’s scoring criteria, and the criteria are designed to allow ATFAB to be transparent and fair with how the awarded money is spent for students, Fodge said.

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Changes are made each year at ATFAB’s discretion in order to ensure the criteria better reflects what is best for ATFAB and for students, said Noah Fishman, a member of ATFAB.

This year, a change was made to the criteria to place more emphasis on the environmental benefit of new projects.

“We believe it is part of our mission as ATFAB to contribute to the environmental benefit, so we rank that equal to the safety of students and how money is being used within the scoring criteria,” Fishman said.

Recently, the Green Trail expansion was paid using this allotment. This project separated the walking and biking paths that go from the Shields Street underpass to the Recreation Center, allowing for safer paths for pedestrians and bikers alike, Fodge said.

A new trail meant to add space to keep bikers out of the road was approved to be added to Hughes Way, spanning Shields Street to the Morgan Library. This project is scheduled to begin in spring 2020 and is anticipated to be completed and ready for student use in fall 2020, Fodge said.

Ultimately, ATFAB is sustainability-focused in its initiatives. 

“We have a sustainability focus,” said Gina McCrackin, a member of ATFAB. “Other boards on campus can choose projects that are related to sustainability, but, inherently working with alternative transportation, we are trying to keep cars off of the road and get people to campus through reduced carbon avenues.”

Corbin Reiter can be reached at new@collegian.com or on Twitter @CorbinReiter.