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The Daily Tar Heel

Giving Students A Ticket to Ride

Although planning is still in the early stages, members of Student Body President Brad Matthews' Cabinet are considering improving services by adding a reverse route, hiring more drivers or sending out buses more frequently.

Jessica Triche, former chairwoman of external relations for the Matthews administration, said students will be offered venues to express their own ideas as the process continues.

"Right now, we're just trying to get information," said Triche, who recently stepped down from her Cabinet post to run Justin Young's campaign for student body president.

"We're just brainstorming."

One of the proposed ways to raise funds for the P2P shuttle service is increasing student fees by $5, which would raise $220,000 overall for the service.

Triche said a large part of the money would go toward hiring new drivers. Since 1997, the number of employees working for the P2P service has dropped from 36 to 12 due to financial cutbacks.

She stressed that the P2P is well worth this increase in student fees because it provides such an important service to so many students.

"One of the issues is, `If I live on campus and don't use it, why should I pay?' But you can't be selfish," Triche said. "Safety is still an issue on campus. At one point in the day, there was only one driver, and they were having trouble picking up the disabled."

Triche said the remaining money not spent on hiring drivers - if it is generated - would not be earmarked until more student feedback is surveyed.

Matthews said expanding P2P service also will help solve broader campus issues of overcrowding and traffic.

"The thing about the P2P is that it is part of a larger problem - campus transit," he said. "The biggest problem to be solved before there can be expansion is that they need money."

Vice Chancellor for Auxiliary Services Carolyn Elfland said the P2P would help alleviate the transportation problems that will occur as the campus expands. UNC's Master Plan, a blueprint for future campus growth, includes an increase in overall parking but a decrease in the ratio of parking spaces per person.

"If you're going to take parking off campus, clearly you have to give them a way to get around when they're here," Elfland said.

Organizers said they hope student input plays a significant role in the improvement of the P2P shuttle service.

Matthews said it is important to determine what students want and are willing to pay for.

"The P2P is solely funded through student fees," he said. "I'd be interested in doing some informal surveying."

Chief of Staff Chris McClure also said student involvement would be solicited.

"There should be a focus group in the near future," he said. "We need to find out what the students want."

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