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The Daily Tar Heel

Full board to vote today on transportation plan

SBP concerned for lack of input

Student Body President Hogan Medlin voiced concern Wednesday that the five-year transportation plan did not include sufficient student input, echoing a complaint he had last year regarding the approval of a $750 tuition supplement.

Medlin, who was not present at the meeting because of his commitment to the Board of Trustees’ University affairs committee at the same time, said student input was not sought out until four months into the planning process for the plan, which includes a student fee increase.

The plan passed through the board’s audit and finance committee despite Medlin’s concerns, which he voiced to board members through Sallie Shuping-Russell, chairwoman of the committee.

The full board will vote on the plan later today.

Jeff McCracken, director of the Department of Public Safety, said he felt students had sufficient chances to provide input.

“We had stakeholder meetings where graduate students were present and I personally met twice with the student body president’s task force on the issue,” he said.

McCracken said the plan will more equally distribute parking and transportation costs among the transportation system, raising student fees to help offset an anticipated $6.1 million increase in transportation costs by 2015-16.

Currently, most of the night parking and park-and-ride lots are primarily used by students, though faculty pay most of the daytime parking fees that support them, McCracken said. He added that about 75 percent of users are students, but their fees don’t reflect that proportion.

“The intent of the plan is to try to be as equitable as we can,” McCracken said.

The plan would increase student permit fees by $5.78 to $7.60 per year, while employee permit holders would pay an additional $5.70 to $16.13 per year, both on a sliding scale determined by income.

Beginning in the fall semester, student transportation fees would also annually increase by $14 per year to cover students’ share of transit costs and reduce parking subsidies.

Chancellor Holden Thorp said it was of the upmost importance to continue to provide fare-free transit service to students and University employees.

“It’s a fundamental principle of our community and important to be able to provide free transportation to employees who live along the bus lines who may not be as highly paid,” Thorp said.

DPS also plans to implement measures to save an estimated $602,000. But that leaves $5.5 million in additional revenue for the plan to generate annually.

“It is only fair that everyone pay to utilize the system,” said Jackie Overton, chairwoman of the Employee Forum.

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