CUH students must now pay for bus passes


Photo Credit: Chantelle Aguilar

Chaminade students must now pay for bus passes for the first time since 2011.

By Chantelle Aguilar, Staff Writer

When senior accounting student Jorisa Fernandez found out she would have to pay $40 for a bus pass that had been free in previous semesters, she was shocked.

“I feel the changes to the U-Pass is unfair, especially for commuters,” said Fernandez. “They commute to avoid costs of having to dorm, or drive to and from school.”

Fernandez lives in the Waialae dormitory and uses the pass to commute to school, work and the grocery store.

For the first time since the 2011 U-Pass program was implemented, students now have to pay. The cost for students living in off-campus dorms is $40 and $133 for all other students this Fall 2015 semester. Negotiations between Chaminade and the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Transportation Services (DTS) led to the adoption of a new program. The U-Pass program, led by TheBus, offers discounted bus pass rates to universities and colleges.

DTS informed Chaminade in July 2014 that changes needed to be made to the 2015 agreement. Among the changes made were increased prices for student passes and the exclusion of faculty, staff and Marianist brothers from participating in the program. A memo from the negotiations between Chaminade and the DTS said, “A staff analysis indicated that the current rate, while attractive for CUH, is not sustainable for the city.” Agreements between Chaminae and DTS are renewed annually.

Aulani Kaʻanoʻi, vice president of Finance and Facilities, said that with this new program, passes are given to Chaminade to be sold “on consignment.”

“At the end of each month, we remit the unsold passes and the amount for the sold passes, back to TheBus,” said Kaʻanoʻi. Student passes are sold to participating schools at $200 per pass.

Chaminade came together to negotiate how much it could subsidize of the $200 pass to alleviate students of the expenses. For Fall 2015, 80 percent was subsidized for off-campus residents and costs $40; and for all other students, 33 percent was subsidized and costs $133. For Spring 2016, passes will be sold to the school for $225 per pass, and 85 percent will be subsidized to off-campus residents and will cost $40. For all other students, 33 percent will be subsidized and will cost $150.

“This is the best the university could do for the prices,” said Grissel Benitez-Hodge, dean of students.

The U-Pass could still benefit students as it costs less than purchasing a bus pass through TheBus, where a monthly pass costs $60 and an annual pass costs $660 (at almost four full months per semester, a bus pass could cost $240).

Passes are sold to faculty and staff at $60 per month, which is the same rate adults in Hawaii are charged. Luckily, Chaminade subsidizes $40 per pass each month due to the employee benefit package, which means faculty and staff pay $20 a month for a pass.

In December 2010, the initial date of agreement between Chaminade and the DTS, it was required that Chaminade purchased a pass for every day student, faculty, staff and resident of on-campus Marianist communities.

“It was a lot of people, but it was so inexpensive the university saw it worth while,” said Benitez-Hodge, who was not a part of the negotiations at the time.

In the early 2000s, when the U-Pass system did not exist, Kaʻanoʻi said that a $150 transportation credit was given to students living in both Date Street and ʻIolani Terrace residences.

“The credit was made directly to the Students Business office account,” said Kaʻanoʻi, “so it could be used to offset tuition or any other charges that were applied to the student’s account.”

Tom Enomoto, customer service manager for TheBus, said that the U-Pass program, which offers discounted bus pass rates to universities and colleges, began in 2005 and originally cost $100 per pass. The city and county determines the bus pass rates charged to students.

Student passes may be purchased in the Business Office. Passes are available for purchase until Sept. 30. Currently, 277 Chaminade student passes have been sold.