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Last update: 5/16/08

[University of Wisconsin-Green Bay News Release]

For Immediate Release:

May 16, 2008

UW-Green Bay, city to offer U-Pass bus service for students

GREEN BAY - A partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Green Bay Metro will soon allow students to ride city buses to and from campus and anywhere in between for free.

A student-led initiative has led the Green Bay Transit Commission to approve a pilot program called U-Pass that would give students free rides just by showing a campus ID. The U-Pass program will run July 1 through June 30. Faculty and staff can also ride with U-Pass.

The Green Bay Transit Commission unanimously approved the proposal at a special meeting Friday, May 16.

UW-Green Bay will pay the city $35,000 to offset individual bus fares normally paid by students, faculty and staff. The money for the pilot program will come from a student segregated fee reserve, a sustainability account and a parking fee reserve.

If U-Pass continues after the pilot program, UW-Green Bay student fees could increase less than $3 per student per semester and the entire campus could see a parking pass fee increase to cover the costs required by Green Bay Metro.

Green Bay Metro determined the annual fee based on the revenues from monthly sales of student rider passes (which are offered at a discounted rate) and regular adult passes for riders near campus.

The program could be expanded to include St. Norbert College in De Pere and Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College on the Green Bay's west side.

"There has been a lot of interest expressed by the other two campuses," said Christopher Phelps, general manager of Green Bay Metro. "This was something that was very important to the students of UW-Green Bay."

The UW-Green Bay Student Government Association helped develop the U-Pass idea with an emphasis on becoming more environmentally friendly. UW-Green Bay is one of four UW System schools looking to use only renewable energy sources in the near future and, in 2007, Chancellor Bruce Shepard signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. In doing so, the University has agreed to develop a long-range plan aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating its greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to the environmental savings, the program could reduce students' annual transportation costs and the need for additional on-campus parking. U-Pass could also increase UW-Green Bay's connection with the community.

Both Downtown Green Bay, Inc., and Olde Main St., Inc., are excited about the opportunity to bring more students in from the campus area, said senior Crystal Osman, who worked with both organizations and helped push through the proposal as the SGA secretary for environmental affairs.

"Incoming freshman and parents ask about this all the time," Osman said. "Now, with gas prices increasing, more students are saying they might ride the bus or try it out."

Student surveys have constantly showed a campus-wide interest in having improved bus or shuttle service to the campus, and the process has connected learning to life.

"We're excited about it," said UW-Green Bay Prof. Marcelo Cruz, who is also a Green Bay Transit commissioner. "It's great for the students to see it go through is a learning experience as far as the politics of making it happen, and also, to allow students to have a viable alternative to transportation to campus."

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08-138 | Contact: Mike Heine, (920) 465-2526

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