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University of Colorado junior Will Viitanen boards an RTD bus on Broadway on Thursday. Next week, CU students will vote on a $14-per-semester hike to their student bus passes.
University of Colorado junior Will Viitanen boards an RTD bus on Broadway on Thursday. Next week, CU students will vote on a $14-per-semester hike to their student bus passes.

BOULDER, Colo. –

With no contested races on the ballot for the first time in 20 years, it would seem there’s little incentive for University of Colorado students to cast their votes in next week’s election.

Yet for the 88 percent of CU students who hold university-issued RTD bus passes, there’s one very good reason to vote: Students on the Boulder campus are being asked to hike their student fees 8 percent — $14 per semester — or lose some of their passes’ privileges.

Without the fee increase, students’ RTD passes no longer will be valid for the skyRide to Denver International Airport, and student riders also will have to pay $1.50 for regional routes, including those to Denver.

Still, for many students, the initial reaction was an instantaneous “No.”

“I live in-state, so I don’t use those anyway,” junior Meghan Cromie said.

“I’d probably just drive instead,” sophomore Michelle Hurst said.

“I’m from out of state, so I already pay a (a lot) to come here,” junior Cole Pesses said. “I don’t see any reason for RTD to reduce its services for students.”

CU students currently pay $348.24 a year in student fees, with which the student government funds “cost centers” such as the University Memorial Center, the Recreation Center and Wardenburg Health Center. Of that total fee, $88 a year goes toward the current RTD pass.

But with 13 percent more CU students riding buses last year, RTD felt it needed to raise rates across the board, said Daniel Omasta, vice president of the CU Student Union’s Legislative Council.

“Because of the economic downturn, people are riding the bus more, which is great, because it reduces our carbon footprint,” Omasta said. “But the additional costs to serve more riders is being passed along to their customers.”

Increased ridership means increased fuel costs, vehicles and vehicle maintenance for RTD, Omasta said.

Peter Roper, transportation manager for CU’s Environmental Center, said a $14-per-semester increase is low in comparison to paying for these services individually.

“For any student who takes the skyRide to the airport and back — even once — it is less expensive to pass the increase than to pay individual fares,” Roper said.

With skyRide routes to DIA costing $12 each way and regional routes to Denver set at $4.50 per trip, the extra $14 per semester could pay for itself fairly quickly, depending on students’ use.

“If you use it enough, that $14 will save you a lot in the end,” senior Aubrey Combs said.

Freshman Carolyn Wright, who initially said she didn’t support an increase, reconsidered after thinking about the three times a year she takes the skyRide to DIA — for Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break.

“I think it’s just that everything is so expensive already right now, that just the thought of making our fees even higher is unappealing,” Wright said. “But it would pay for itself pretty quickly.”

Archived comments

I’ve heard more than one person say they are taking classes at Metro just to get the discounted pass. It makes sense at does cost a lot less than driving to campus and paying for parking fees. Plus many, many Boulder students ride down on Friday and Saturday nights to party. The extra $14 is still cheaper than a Taxi or a DUI.


4/2/2009 7:58:04 PM

maybe they should let the people who pay the bills take the survey?


4/3/2009 6:28:34 AM

bouldermeister… What survey?? There is no survey.


4/3/2009 6:47:00 AM

The increase would be paid for pretty quickly when you factor in the cost of SkyRide or parking at the airport, but I’m curious as to why there’s an increase in the first place. I think there was one last year. I understand that fuel costs went up for a while, but they seem to have gone back down. So, if that was the reason for the increase, why wouldn’t the rates go back down eventually? The same is true for the higher fares everyone is paying.

On another note, students (at least grad students) should be able to opt out of fees for things like the bus pass and the recreation center. I realize that might make the fees go up for the students who opt in, but why should I pay for a rec. center that I don’t use? I used the bus pass and rec. center a lot when I lived in Boulder, but now that I’ve moved, it’s not nearly as convenient as it once was.

4/5/2009 9:36:16 AM

Stop spending money on giving away free ice scrapers and candy at the UMC and invest that towards our bus passes.

Oh, and the brand new campus security SUV looks like its pretty expensive.. Get a golf cart and save the money.


4/5/2009 9:37:39 AM

How many CU employees make $100K per year or more?How about a 5% across the board pay cut for these Lexus SUV drivers?How much money would that raise?


4/5/2009 1:34:34 PM

one ride to and from the airport pays for the fare increase. seems like a no-brainer to me…

4/5/2009 3:47:39 PM

Yes, it is a no-brainer, and well worth the extra fee to have those things that would be lost. It just sucks to see the RTD holding students hostage to this increase–those who can least afford additional fees while financial aid shrinks and tuitions rise–and withholding what was previously included in the existing fee.


4/5/2009 5:52:15 PM

“CU students currently pay $348.24 a year in student fees”

Which decade do you get your facts from?I’m a CU student and my student fees clock in at a just over $1600 a year.I’m a ‘base fee’ paying graduate student as well – meaning this doesn’t even include membership to the student rec center.That costs me, at last count, an additional $200 per year.I’ll admit a couple of hundred of those fees are for the CU health insurance plan, but that is mandatory at CU Boulder (and largely offset by contributions from my TA line).If you have any idea how I can reduce my fees to anywhere near the figure you listed – say even a thousand dollars a year more – I’d be really excited to hear about it.

CU Boulder for years now has used ‘fees’ as a cheap way to get around hiking tuition – much like airlines now tack on additional annoying charges for extra luggage.I get it – education is expensive.But when you’re paying this much for something you really value, it’s more than a little disappointing to be nickled and dimed to death with constantly rising fees that doen’t seem to correlate with any sort of return.

That said, every time we vote on SkyRide, I end up voting for it because it does save me money.

4/7/2009 9:42:46 AM

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