Administration, student government and C-Tran are working together to maintain low-priced bus passes for students and creating transportation from the college to Portland.
This negotiation is in light of C-Tran’s forecasted fare increases early next year and a need for metro students to reach their homes easier. The ASCC worked with administration and then reached out to C-Tran for a meeting about student fares.
Student Kim Louie uses the Vine bus every day since she started attending college. Everyone in Louie’s family uses the Vine and she said she doesn’t know what she would do if ticket prices were raised.
“I feel the tickets are already expensive as it is,” she said. Louie is one of many Clark students who use C-Tran buses to get to Clark.
Running start students including Kaylee Lawson ride the bus daily. Although her high school provides a free bus pass, many students are unable to obtain one and are forced to pay out of pocket for commuting.
The college has a bus pass discount for currently registered students. Bob Williamson, vice president of administrative services, said around 1900 students bought the bus pass during the 2017-2018 school year.
Williamson, President Bob Knight and members of the ASCC met with C-Tran on Oct. 8 to discuss incoming ticket price increases. C-Tran decided that it would have been too much, too soon.
“They’re a good partner,” Williamson said of Clark’s relationship with C-Tran. “C-Tran has always been supportive of the college and our ridership.”
“Students should know C-Tran is a business and needs to cover its own costs as well,” Williamson. “Some cost increase is not unexpected or unreasonable.”
Williamson clarified that ticket prices likely won’t spike drastically, instead Clark and C-Tran will compromise to slowly raise prices. Both parties are also discussing ways to expand the Vine buses to Mill Plain.
Two members of the ASCC, Alyssa Dolan and Shalana Marshal, are seeking an arrangement with TriMet and C-Tran to provide transportation for students that commute from Portland. Neither transportation company currently provides direct service from Portland to Clark.
“Your ASCC student government did exactly what it’s supposed to do,” Williamson said. “It heard that a cost increase of this magnitude would hurt and so the ASCC wanted to be part of that conversation.”
Williamson took the C-Tran buses in 1987, when he first moved to Vancouver. “I had a very unreliable car and ended up having to use C-Tran on a number of occasions,” he said. According to Williamson, ticket price increases were more common in the 80s, with raises typically around $2 or $3.
“Clark will do anything it can to mitigate and manage cost increases,” he said. “We will always sit down with C-Tran and express our interest in keeping costs as low as can be.”
One of the ways Clark keeps their costs low is through its own bus pass, which the college has provided since the early 1990s. The pass is partly subsidized by Clark and the ASCC. A $15 per quarter bus pass allows a student to go anywhere C-Tran goes.
Williamson said Clark and C-Tran will likely meet in the Spring quarter, which is when changes are likely to be made.