Mass transit divides students


Anne Virginia Koepp

Mass transportation around campus could be in the future for SDSU with three bus stops plotted in a semi-master plan and with plans to move parking to the outskirts of campus.

Dean Kattelmann, assistant vice president for facilities and services, said incorporating a bus system for the campus is still in flux.

A semi-master plan that projects to 2018 has three bus stops in the plan and a potential fourth. According to the SDSU master plan of Oct. 2008, the university has plans to move parking to the outskirts of campus and explore mass transportation options.

“Mass transportation would not be coming to the center of campus,” said Kattelmann.

Eric Haiar, Students’ Association state and local government chair, promoted a mass transportation platform when running for SA president.

“I feel that a mass transit system is very important as our campus continues to expand,” said Haiar. “In the campus master plan 2025, we are supposed to be a completely walking campus with all external parking lots.

“With a mass transit system in place, before we get to that point, it will make the adjustment to being a completely walking campus easier,” Haiar said. “The public transit system is also a good idea because it makes our campus a lot safer. If we install a transit system, there will be less internal traffic, which makes it safer for the students that do choose to walk because they won’t have to worry about cars cruising by right in front of them.”

A bussing system would mean the university would try to work with the city of Brookings to have a pay-as-you-go system. Initial costs for start-up are still unclear, but ridership will not be taken from student fees.

“The cost of the buses shouldn’t fall on the backs of student fees,” said Kattelmann.

BATA (Brookings Area Transit Authority) already offers rides for students with a fee of $1 per ride on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, according to their Web site. BATA will pick students up anywhere within city limits, provided they schedule a full day in advance.

Tyler Luckhurst, a senior political science major from Huron, S.D., visited Mankato State University on March 26 to analyze the paid lot system for SDSU’s Union. The purpose of the paid lot system for MSU’s student union is to help subsidize a bussing system.

According to the MSU 2009-10 parking map, a student receives an unlimited bus ticket for the year with the purchase of a parking decal.

“Buses run at 10- to 13-minute intervals and stop at every lot on campus,” said Luckhurst. “There are even some stops off campus at grocery stores and malls that students can ride to.”The buses on campus are packed full during classes too, said Luckhurst.

“As for SDSU, a paid lot would be good if the university used the money to give back to students and subsidized a bussing system,” said Luckhurst. “Campus is bound to grow more than 10 minutes from corner to corner and a bussing system will be inevitable.”

In an online Collegian survey of students’ opinion on a bussing system, it was a near even split, but more students were in favor of implementing a mass transportation system. Of the 332 students surveyed, 182 would like to see a bussing system while 150 are opposed.

Some students said that the campus is not huge, and therefore, SDSU needs parking more than bussing. Others said that the bussing system would lessen traffic congestion at the heart of campus, and winter walks would not be as daunting.

Of students surveyed, 59.4 percent would like to see the buses only run during the winter months. Fifty percent of students polled said walking distances on campus were reasonable now, while 25 percent said they were getting a little long. About 15 percent of students said they were just right.

“Having a bussing system on campus would need too many buses,” said Brady Jackson, a junior civil engineering major from Tracy, Minn. “Rotunda holds so many students that when they get out of class all of them wouldn’t be able to ride a bus.” Other students said that a bussing system would reduce the anxiety of fighting to find a parking space.

“It reduces the stress of trying to find a place to park,” said Paul Prunty, a freshman animal science major from Pipestone, Minn. “It would be convenient to get across campus.”

Kattelmann said there are abundant places to park on campus and that walking is the main concern. He said that it is a 10-minute walk from The Union to anywhere on campus.”We don’t have a parking problem. We have a walking problem,” said Kattelmann. “There are open spaces, but people don’t want to walk.”

While the bussing system is still in flux, administrators are certain that SDSU will someday be a walking campus. “The goal is to make SDSU a more aesthetically pleasing walking campus,” said Kattelmann.