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Thursday, December 17, 2009

UC*Metro deal sees more changes

UC students, faculty, and staff will soon pay more to participate in the UC*Metro program. When originally created, the deal allowed free rides on any Metro bus route by simply showing your UC ID card. In September, we reported that riders must now pay a quarterly fee ($40 for students, $120 for faculty and staff), and pay an additional fare for routes outside of Zone 1.

Due to an increasingly tight budget situation at Metro, which has required a combination of service cuts and fare hikes, the UC*Metro deal will see additional changes. In addition to paying for the quarterly card, riders must now pay a 25¢ fare for routes within Zone 1 (formerly free), and increased fares in other zones (see full list of fares at UC's website).

The new fares will take affect on December 27. Those who have already purchased a pass for Winter Quarter have been given the option of requesting a refund, from now until January 11, 2010, by e-mailing Marie Sutthoff at or calling 513-556-4319.


5chw4r7z said...

I really don't understand this. I understand they are short money, but the buses are already running, what purpose does it serve chasing all the UC riders off?
It seems to me that the UC commuters would be money in their pocket that they didn't have before.
Guess its back to the car for me. Bummer.

Randy Simes said...

So does the additional 25 cent fare in Zone 1 have to be paid in person when you ride in that zone? If so, this new feature then removes the last remaining benefit of the go*METRO system now that you have to have change on you to pay for your ride. This program is getting worse and worse.

David Ben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Ben said...

There were a few typos in my last post. Cleaner version follows.

Yes, it is a bummer that we now have to pay a bit more, but really, it is still one hell of a deal. Do the math:

40 dollars per quarter + .25 per ride will equal out with the new base fare of 1.75 per ride once there are 26 rides takes. Sounds like a lot, but it isn't. Most people ride round trip because if they got there on the bus, how else are they going to get back? So 26 rides is actually 13 trips. To take the METRO 13 times over the course of a quarter (3 months), that’s just over 4 rides per month, or once per week. If you rode the bus just once per week, the pass would pay for itself. Ride it more, and you are riding for free each time.

I'd also like to address Bob's comment that "its back to the car" for him. Really, Bob? I understand that your faculty pass is more expensive than my student pass - about $120 compared to $40 if I'm not mistaken. That sucks. But the math would then turn out in your favor, I'd presume. If you ride the bus 3 times per week, you'd break even. That's net even factoring in the cost of parking at UC (astronomical, but maybe you buy a parking pass either way) and the cost of parking downtown (but you probably just park at home).

Point is - UC*METRO, while no longer free, is still a good deal for students. Even if it didn't save anyone any money, it helps promote the transportation culture, gets people out of their cars, reduces traffic congestion, and reduces polluting emissions.

Leiflet said...

It sucks. It was poorly communicated. It's driving away their own base.

But, it's still cheaper than driving. It's fewer emissions. It's safer in the winter. It's warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I can read to and from school. It still connects me with people in my neighborhood.

I am hesitant, but still supportive.

Randy Simes said...

My problem is that the people in charge of this program keep making it more difficult. You now have to apply for a seperate pass from your UC student ID, you have to pay an additional fee, and now you have to decifer between zones.

The beauty of the original version was the ease of using it. They should somehow make UC Student ID cards to be able to be used like many transit cards where students could simply check a box when they pay their tuition and then automatically pay for the quarter worth of UC*Metro. One card, payment integrated with an already performed function, and no need to understand fare zones.

NK said...

As a UC employee I can tell you that the changes made by goMetro have ensured that I will not buy a pass or ride the bus, which is unfortunate because it could save me time and money and I want to be able to ride the bus.

First of all, I live outside of town and would have to take a job connection bus that only runs during certain days and certain times, which are not convenient if my schedule ever changes like having to stay late for work. Also, the few times I have tried the bus, the transfer downtown has been extremely unreliable. I once stood outside in 20 degree weather for 45 minutes waiting for a connection (my car warms up in 3 minutes). The other problem is that in order to make the card worth it you have to ride at least 3 days a week for 3 months and then after that you rides expire. What if I go on vacation or have a special project for a week? Those missed rides become a waste of money.

Why doesn't the metro work like every other metro in a big city where you can simply purchase the number of rides you want? How about letting me buy 10 rides that don't expire and maybe offer uc employees a 10 percent discount for every 10 rides purchased or something similar?

All I have to say about the changes they keep making is that they don't make sense. They are losing riders with these changes. They are making things less convenient while trying to make more money. If they need more money and more riders, things need to be easier for the riders.

Randy Simes said...


That's a great comment. It would be great to allow users to purchase rides instead of just a dollar amount. This is how I utilize my MARTA pass in Atlanta since I am in and out of town regularly and can not know for sure how often I will be riding. Having the flexibility of purchasing trips is a great feature.

5chw4r7z said...

I thought it was still going to be a good deal, until they threw in that quarter.
Its gonna be a wash maybe, i won't pay parking I can always find a spot on the street. I'm really struggling with this because I hate driving. I'm also going to hate worrying about having change. The hassle of that quarter may outweigh the hassle of driving.
If none of this makes sense, it doesn't to me either, I'm gonna pick the lesser of 2 irrational choices I feel I have.
The other issue is the bus schedule doesn't fit my schedule, I have to decide everyday whether to stress over sneaking out early or sitting around an extra 15 minutes.
Add that to the fact if I get to the bus stop a minute late the bus has already pulled away, but if I get there on time its way late.

Travis Estell said...

While it's still a good deal for those people willing to figure out the details, it's a shame that so much confusion has been added to the program. I agree with Randy that "the beauty of the original version was the ease of using it."

With the original program, an average UC student who had never used mass transit before could easily try out Metro because it was simple and completely free. Now, these casual users aren't going to bother because of the inconvenience of ordering a card, paying for the card, and then paying per-ride. Like I said, it's a good deal for some, but it sure isn't going to attract new riders like the original did.

Ron Tunning said...

This is simply wrongheaded policy. College students are already facing unconscionable costs for tuition, fees, books, and room and board. The one thing the city should at least try to accomplish is to relieve any additional financial hardship.

I notice that Pittsburgh has now decided to tax college tuition, another stupid idea. While we allegedly seek to recruit the creative class to cities such as Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the truth is we drive it away through penurious policies.

5chw4r7z said...

OK, in the end it wasn't directly a monetary decision, I remembered I have performance tires on my car, not recommended for winter driving.
Instead I have this to look forward too, enter the bus, swipe my card, show my ID then drop a quarter in the slot.
How much more can they discourage someone from using their service?

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