On March 15, Student Government’s Executive Slate abruptly cancelled the end-of-quarter airport shuttle service without consulting the Executive Committee or the General Assembly. The announcement was made three days before the end of winter quarter and two days before the shuttle service usually begins.
Every year during SG’s annual budgeting process, the Executive Slate is granted an “administrative fund.” This fund, which consisted of $34,000 this year, is typically used to buy food for SG’s monthly General Assembly meetings and to pay for the shuttle service. The current Executive Slate is comprised of President Tyler Kissinger, Vice President for Administration Alex Jung, and Vice President for Student Affairs Kenzo Esquivel.
Kissinger said that declining ridership and administrative burdens made the service difficult to operate, especially for the SG members who volunteer to staff the service during finals week.
“While the program operated, it was a consistent struggle to find a shuttle provider that was to provide the bare minimum of shuttles to make the service happen. Once, we didn’t even receive final confirmation from providers until the day before that they’d be able to provide the necessary shuttles...It was [also] not uncommon for shuttles to break down or run late, and we’ve had to deal with lost luggage and other mishaps. The program...required someone to be on-call and available for troubleshooting for about 12 hours during the days during finals week that the shuttles were running,” Kissinger said.
On Tuesday, CC assembled at its weekly meeting in Stuart Hall to petition the Executive Slate to reinstate the shuttle service for spring quarter, stating that students have come to rely on the service for convenient and dependable transportation from campus to both Midway and O’Hare airports at the end of every finals week. According to the official resolution statement written by Eric Holmberg, chair of CC, the service has consistently been popular for the past 12 years, with 680 students using the service last winter quarter. CC also said that there is sufficient funding allocated to the administrative budget to pay for the service.
Holmberg said that the cancellation of the service places an undue burden on undergraduate students.
“I do understand that we were planning on discontinuing the service next year when we have U-Pass, but I think it makes sense to continue to do it until the end of this year. It’s not unreasonable to me, and it’s worth pursuing for our constituents. I know the money already exists, so I...want to present a resolution that calls on Slate to reinstate the program this quarter,” Holmberg said.
Class of 2016 Representative Mike Viola agreed with Holmberg, saying that despite the fact that this year’s administrative budget was less than last year’s, the service has always been an assumed part of the administrative budget.
“To put this all into context, I believe that we granted the administrative budget $34,000 last spring...which is still more than half of last year’s budget. I don’t know how much [of the administrative budget] Slate has spent, but I can’t imagine it was all that much. Shuttles were, and have always been, an assumed part of the budget…[even though this year’s] budget was less than that of previous years,” Viola said.
The motion to adopt the airport shuttle reinstatement resolution passed unanimously with 15 representatives in favor and zero opposed.
Since the Council’s resolution, which has since been passed to the Executive Slate, Kissinger has been looking at potential next steps.
“We empathize with the concerns aired in CC’s resolutions. We will be working with them and any interested members of the student body over the next few weeks to come to a resolution that best serves student needs,” Kissinger said.
Remaining funds for the year that would have typically gone toward the shuttle service will be redirected to the SG Finance Committee to fund RSO events.