Students pitch idea of downtown shuttle to trustees

Students may soon be able to make a trip to downtown Fort Worth without worrying about driving and fighting for a parking spot, but when the option will be available is currently uncertain.

Twelve student body representatives proposed the idea of the “Sundance Shuttle” to the Board of Trustees on Thursday afternoon in the Spring 2009 Student Relations Committee Meeting.

The shuttle would travel on a triangular route, transporting students between the Brown-Lupton University Union, Sundance Square and the Fort Worth Stockyards, said student body vice president Matt Dietrichson.

“Students wouldn’t need to bring a car to campus to enjoy all the aspects of Fort Worth,” Dietrichson said.

Justin Brown, a student representative for the Honors Cabinet, said improved local transportation could be an additional selling point to prospective students who are deciding between TCU and otherwise similarly regarded universities.

“Baylor and Rice are really trumping us in this area,” Brown said.

Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs, said Fort Worth’s local transportation system, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, also known as the T, has expressed an interest in using a vehicle to transport students at no additional cost. An agreement has not yet been made, he said, because the late-night weekend hours that students would be most likely to use the service conflict with the T’s availability.

Mills said the T was also concerned by the amount of drinking college students tend to do when they spend the night out.

“They don’t want to be seen as a ‘drunk bus,'” Mills said.

Mills said that aside from the T, another option would be to extend the university’s service with Roadrunner, the company that currently runs the on-campus shuttles.

In order to pay for the additional costs, Student Body President Kelsie Johnson suggested raising the cost of parking stickers by $25. The new price of $100 per sticker would provide the university with $125,000 to help finance the new transportation system.

In addition to the creation of the Sundance Shuttle, the committee also suggested using a larger portion of the university’s budget for financial aid. A montage of candid student videos about how the recession has affected their academic performance and college experience accompanied the suggestion.

Brown also said there is an on-campus push for a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Questioning resource center.

“Something that says it’s okay to talk about these kinds of issues – that can kind of open up a broader dialogue,” Brown said.

Mills said the university has discussed, and plans to move forward with, the installation of 1,300 security cameras to make campus safer.

Trustee Mary Lowe said students concerns were realistic and were not far-fetched.

“Hopefully we can work and make your dreams come true,” Lowe said.