WSU Commute Expected to Ease

WSU Commute Expected to Ease

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Free bus rides, shuttle buses and the opening of a new campus in Davis County are expected to ease students' commute to Weber State's Ogden campus this year.

Classes start Monday. Enrollment figures are not expected for a few weeks, but it is expected to total at least last fall's high of 18,654 if not more, said WSU Manager of Budget Chris Clark said.

Students, faculty and staff may now get free bus rides through a federal air-quality grant. "It's dubbed "Ed Pass," and also includes free rides on TRAX light-rail service in Salt Lake City. A fare is still required for door-to-door paratransit and ski-bus services.

"I just found out about it today and I think it's kind of a cool thing," said Andrew Balls, 19, a WSU freshman who lives in Brigham City. He doesn't own a car and plans on taking advantage of the free bus rides.

Other universities and colleges are using programs that started with free UTA bus rides. The University of Utah piloted the program several years ago and is now funding it for students. Brigham Young University and Utah Valley State College tried the program last year and are now funding it.

Sampling the program this year are the Utah State University extension in Brigham City, Applied Technology Colleges including Ogden-Weber, Davis and Bridgerland and Salt Lake Community College.

If the university takes over the program next year, students may have to subsidize it by paying up to $10 per semester. But the funding could come out of student fees, said Kent Jorgenson, regional marketing and rideshare specialist for the Utah Transit Authority's Mount Ogden Business Unit.

A regular monthly bus pass for students through UTA is $33.

WSU officials also expect the new WSU Davis campus to help alleviate parking problems on the Ogden campus. The Davis campus is expect to handle 3,000 of the WSU students.

WSU also has a shuttle-bus program that allows students to park at the Dee Events Center and take a shuttle to campus. Last fall, the Dee parking lot was about 80 percent full by 11 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, said Norm Tarbox, WSU vice president of administrative services.

"That will be the telltale sign as to what effect the Davis campus and the Ed Pass is having," Tarbox said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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