AMHERST, Mass. — The University of Massachusetts Student Government Association (SGA) Senate approved a resolution and letter addressed to MassDOT and transportation secretary Stephanie Pollack, encouraging fixed fares on the Knowledge Corridor pilot passenger rail service.
The SGA believes that fixed fares based on distance is the best fare structure for students and community members rather than dynamic fares that fluctuate with demand. The letter was signed by President Timothy Sullivan and approved unanimously by the body on Dec. 10.
“Fixed fare structure is the way to go. For students to be able to rely on the service, they have to be able to rely on the price,” said Robert Kearns, a Student Government Association Senator and senior environmental science major.
The Knowledge Corridor pilot passenger rail service is state-subsidized. The passenger rail service will run between Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke and Springfield, Mass. — as well as Hartford and New Haven, Conn. — with connections to Metro North to New York City.
There is precedent for fixed fares for passenger rail service.
The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority has set fixed fares on the state-subsidized Amtrak Downeaster service between Boston, Portland and Brunswick, Maine. CTDOT and MassDOT have agreed to fixed fares for all travel on CTrail Hartford Line between Springfield, Mass. and New Haven, Conn. Additionally, the MBTA Commuter Rail Service uses fixed fares across its network.
According to the National Student Financial Wellness, approximately 70-percent of college students experience stress when it comes to finances, and 32-percent of reporting students also said they neglected their studies at least sometimes because of money owed*. One in four Americans have student loan debt** and many students cannot afford to pay high fares at peak travel times. However, they still heavily rely on public transportation to travel.
[**] census.gov/ FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax
The Mission of the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association
To establish and protect the democratic system for undergraduate university governance; to promote the general welfare of all university undergraduate students. To create and maintain strong lines of communication between students and university administrators; to work toward greater transparency in administrative decisions. To protect the accessibility and affordability of the university for all students. To work to acknowledge, appreciate, and expand the diversity of the student body, including socioeconomic, racial, religious, cultural, gender, sexual orientation and political characteristics. To provide leadership opportunities and development for all undergraduate students and to set the standards which other schools strive to uphold when leading their students into the future.