USF transport fee hike speeds ahead

USF officials have recommended the University increase students’ transportation access fee by $.75 per credit hour.

The increase – which would hike the fee from $2.25 to $3 per credit hour – follows budget shortfalls, sputtering city subsidies for transportation, and rising gasoline costs, which have emptied the University’s tank of funds for the campus bus service.

Officials expect the fee to generate more than $700,000, which will go toward fuel, maintenance, and replacement costs for the fleet of Bull Runner buses, some of which have been running since 1997, said Manny Lopez, the director of Transportation and Parking Services.

The fee last rose in 2004, when it went from $2 to $2.25 per credit hour. Since then, fuel costs for regular gasoline have risen by more than 40 percent, from a U.S. average of $1.85 in August of 2004 to $2.82 in August of 2007. Tampa also withdrew a $360,000 subsidy for busing in 2004, Lopez said.

“We’re wanting to maintain a level of service that the student body and staff have become accustomed to,” Lopez said. “That level of service was funded by money no longer there, so it was time to look at raising the transportation fee.”

For students taking 12 credit hours, the increase would up their fee by $9 a semester.

Lopez said his department has asked management at off-campus housing locations to contribute money for the Bull Runner shuttle service, and in the future, those that elect not to pay might have service cut.

The fee hike, which was sanctioned by representatives of student government’s executive branch, will be considered by the Finance and Audit Workgroup of the Board of Trustees on Nov. 6, and will go before the full board on Dec. 6.

“(Transportation and Parking Services) is kind of grasping right now,” said student body Vice President Faran Abbasi. “They’re not trying to go above and beyond. They’re just trying to maintain the status quo. We use their services, so we’re going to have to pay for it.”

David Guidi can be reached at (813)974-188 or