New bus stickers cause student confusion

SA President Tucker Sholtes announces plan to send a campus-wide email in coming weeks to explain green SA stickers, $25 transportation fee.  (David Armelino | The Oswegonian)
SA President Tucker Sholtes announces plan to send a campus-wide email in coming weeks to explain green SA stickers, $25 transportation fee. (David Armelino | The Oswegonian)

Oswego State students are now required to get a green Student Association bus pass sticker to ride the Centro buses to and from Syracuse Thursday through Sunday as well as downtown.

This has caused confusion among the Oswego State campus community as to who needs a sticker, what the sticker means, what buses require the sticker and which days students still need to pay the $5 fee to ride.

Centro has a large contract with three different jurisdictions funding it on the Oswego State campus. SA puts money into the Centro account and this comes out of the mandatory $97 SA fee that all undergraduate students pay in their tuition. Auxiliary Services puts money into the Centro account as well. For the first time ever, Oswego State students have been charged a $25 transportation fee.

SA instituted the bus sticker this year for several reasons. Last year, even after the bus company received a $67,000 contractual agreement for the 2013-2014 academic year, SA still ran nearly $20,000 “into the red,” according to SA President Tucker Sholtes at the meeting last Tuesday.

One of the biggest problems with busing in the recent years is that Centro has in their agreement that if there is a need for more buses, they will send more. This causes problems especially during breaks where many students rely on the 246 Centro route to Syracuse as their way to the William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center, where they can access Amtrak, Greyhound, Trailways and other transportation outlets. The $97 SA fee specifically covers the 246 Syracuse bus route Thursday through Sundays as well as downtown bus services in the city of Oswego. Since only undergraduate students pay this fee, graduate students and faculty do not. Oswego State patrons still need to pay $5 Monday through Wednesday for Syracuse service.

In the past, without the SA bus pass stickers, anyone with an Oswego State ID, even those who graduated, could ride Centro buses free of charge. This is where problems arose last year, when Centro needed to send extra buses due to the amount of people waiting for transportation to and from the campus. SA got billed for those extra miles.

This issue is now eliminated with the green bus stickers. When a student goes to the box office to get a green bus sticker, their Oswego State identification card is scanned to make sure their fees are paid. The sticker is then placed on their card. This then allows students free access to the downtown bus service in the city of Oswego as well as the 246 Syracuse service Thursday through Sunday, as they have in the past.

Problems did arise early on this semester with the amount of confusion surrounding the green bus stickers. No one on the Oswego State campus was informed about the change and this caused misunderstandings and frustration among the campus community. Several students were even denied bus transportation. Several students also reported that different bus drivers were telling students different stories, adding to the confusion.

“I think that a lot of students didn’t find out about this sticker until they were being denied from the bus, which is really unfortunate,” said Jillian Kranz, a sophomore human resource management major and resident assistant in Funnelle Hall. “I personally had a lot of residents ask about this sticker and I gave them misinformation because I wasn’t aware of this new system. I recently emailed my residents after many of them asked me about it.”

Kranz was not the only student to express frustration over the lack of communication about the changes on campus this semester.

“I found out about the sticker from one of the bus drivers who said I had to pay a dollar and when I asked why he told everyone about how we need the sticker despite the school never saying anything about the sticker,” Charles Dumblis said, a sophomore public justice and broadcasting major. “I have not heard of the $25 transportation fee either. I think the school should have made an announcement. Yes, it was only a dollar but it would have been nice to know about it. I do not currently have the sticker though I do plan on getting one soon.”

The bus stickers are not the only thing confusing Oswego State students. Many did not know, nor were made aware of, the first-time-ever $25 transportation fee charged to every Oswego State undergraduate student’s bill this semester. Oswego State was one of the only SUNY Schools not to charge a transportation fee in previous years. This fee is one of several fees that could have been waived prior to the start of the semester.

“The $25 transportation fee pays for the green and blue shuttles [Centro], the express 446x to Syracuse Tuesday through Thursday, the Trailways service on Sunday evening and the Zipcar service,” said Michael Flaherty, the director of Auxiliary Services.

“I was not aware of the $25 transportation fee,” Hannah Lee, a senior public justice major. “It wasn’t until after the semester began that I learned that it was an optional fee that could have been waived prior to the start of the semester.”

Although it is now four weeks into the Fall 2014 academic semester, there are still many bewildered students who do not know about the green bus stickers and how they work exactly and for which bus routes they are needed. Sholtes and SA Director of Finance Elena Sánchez, in collaboration with the Dean of Students Office, are expected to release a campus-wide announcement later next week regarding the bus stickers.

Students can still receive their green SA 2014-2015 bus pass from the box office throughout the semester as needed.