Many UNC students who hop on the Robertson bus next semester expecting a free ride to Duke will have to pay up instead.
The service, which runs between Duke University and UNC, will begin charging a $2.50 fare on Jan. 7. The fee will not apply to Robertson Scholars or people with passes administered by either university.
The change, which also includes moving the bus operation from Duke Transit to Triangle Transit, comes after a recent survey by Duke Transit. The survey revealed many of the riders were not Robertson Scholars — or even students.
John Tallmadge, director of regional services development for Triangle Transit, said he estimated only about 4 percent of the riders were Robertson Scholars.
The survey also found that approximately 3,000 boardings took place in one of the two weeks surveyed.
“We found that a good portion of the riders are essentially unaffiliated with either university,” said Allen Chan, interim executive director for the Robertson Scholars Program.
“We’re trying to recoup a little bit of the cost from those unaffiliated riders,” he said.
While anyone can ride the bus, it was created for Robertson Scholars to travel back and forth between the universities. Scholars are enrolled and take classes at both schools.
Seven years ago, Duke Transit became responsible for running the bus, but the scholars program continues to pay for the service.