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|Contact: Christine Payton||May 5, 2008|
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|RISING FUEL PRICES MAKE TRANSIT SYSTEM COSTLY
| Running a transit system from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s main academic campus to Bourgeois Hall and Cajun Field is an ever-growing, costly service.
Transit officials are feeling the pinch of rising fuel costs and the demands of maintenance to an aging fleet with little relief on the way. The estimated cost for fuel for June is nearly $50,000 and yearly maintenance for the fleet is nearly $40,000. Wages for student drivers are just over $35,000 per year.
“ We have to be competitive in terms of pay for our drivers,” said Simon Broussard, director of UL Lafayette’s Parking and Transit Department. “These students have to maintain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and they have the huge responsibility of getting fellow students to and from campus utilizing Johnston Street.”
Twenty student drivers steer the fleet which includes 13 buses, 2 shuttles and 2 vans. Of the buses, four are less than 2 years old while the rest are between eight and 25 years old.
“ Of course, a newer fleet would mean better gas mileage and less maintenance,” said Broussard. “But we can’t replace the whole fleet at one time. The two new university transit busses, which were put into service within the last 60 days, cost just over $268,000. Operating and maintaining a safe and efficient student transit system is an expensive proposition – but a necessary and vital one.”
Offering a little relief to the costly system is a 440-space parking garage that opened earlier this month.
The garage, located at the corner of Taft Street and St. Mary Boulevard, is designated as a pay lot. Anyone can park in the garage for $1 per hour.
Similar garages may be in the works for the campus, which is landlocked. One proposed site is at the corner of Johnston and East Lewis streets.
“ We’re in the middle of the city, so we have limited parking,” said Broussard. “We can’t go anywhere in terms of growth without impacting the city.”
He noted that a transit system will always have to be in place because of classes at Bourgeois Hall, but with more on-campus parking, the busing system could see some relief.
“ Until we can provide adequate parking on the main campus – i.e., two or three additional parking garages – we will have to continue providing the current services to students. The price tag for these services will continue to increase, particularly as long as fuel and personnel cost continue to escalate,” said Broussard.
About 3,500 students park their vehicles at Cajun Field and take a bus to campus and back. Others pay to park in nearby private lots. An additional 5,000 parking spaces would be needed to accommodate demand.
ABOUT UL LAFAYETTE
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the second largest university in the state, with over 16,000 students. It’s a public institution that awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. It includes diverse offerings from the humanities to scientific research and leads the nation in areas like computer science, biology and nursing. Its student-athletes – Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns – compete in NCAA Division I, the highest level of collegiate competition.
Document last revised Monday, May 5, 2008 9:07 AM
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