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Rejected safety initiative idles money away

Submitted by adm_wordpress on August 22, 2012 – 12:43 pmNo Comment

Illustration by Sarah Melero

Eight months have passed since the Trojan Trolleys were introduced as a safety initiative.
When introduced, a five-year contract was signed by UALR for Arkansas Destinations to operate the service. However, an escape clause was part of the contract that would allow UALR out of the agreement after one-year if it was deemed necessary.
With about 13,000 fee-paying students, the cost averages to about $23 per student each year, not including the cost of fuel. But considering the ever-present empty seats on the trolleys the cost is astounding.
While part of the reasoning behind the trolleys coming to campus was to relieve the walk from outlying parking lots, we all know what the major purpose was: a public relations stunt following the murder of UALR student Patricia Guardado, who went missing after parking in an off campus parking lot across University Avenue, last October. The campus had an upheaval on their hands and introducing the trolleys was a way to calm students’ nerves. The goal of providing a sense of security for students might have had good intentions, but the program has failed miserably.
It might have been a good idea, in theory. The hope was that students would use the service. But that has not happened. The gas guzzling trolleys can be seen at all hours of the day with very few to zero students on board. With such few students riding, the cost per ride is surely excessive blowing money and emissions out the tail pipe.
In January, the first year will be complete. There should not be much to consider when deciding whether to utilize the escape clause or not. It should be an easy decision, actually. It’s time for the trolleys to go. With tuition rising and cuts being made in many areas of the campus community, more than $300,000 a year is too much to be blowing on a service that is rarely used.
We urge the administration: do not renew the contract. Spend this money in other areas.
Providing service for lazy students is not worth the cost. Many of the students who use the service just ride it from the DSC to the housing complex. This isn’t a necessity, but rather a luxury. And a very expensive luxury at that.
The average person can walk from one end of campus to the other in 10 to 15 minutes. The problem is when people arrive to campus five minutes before class and expect to have time to find a parking spot and make it to their classroom on time.
We know that some people have special circumstances. For people who have a disability or some other special situation, resources are available to accommodate those situations. The best option for someone needing assistance would be visiting the Disability Resource Center. Our point in advocating the removal of the trolleys is not to disenfranchise anyone, but rather to direct precious resources to more vital aspects of the campus and its operations.
Currently, the Department of Public Safety provides an escort service for students who feel threatened in any way on campus. Perhaps this service could be expanded to help those students, faculty and staff with disabilities that prevent them from being able to walk long distances. Or a similar service provided on an as needed basis in a more environmentally friendly vehicle like an electric golf cart could be used.
The point is that resources are available and other ideas are out there. Hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on trolleys to ride around empty is not a sensible use of student tuition and taxpayer dollars.

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