Roadblocks stall university and StarMetro contract

In May 2006 the contract between StarMetro, formally known as TalTran, and Florida A&M University ended because the student numbers reported did not match the actual number of students using the bus privileges.

“One of the problems with the contract was that FAMU was concerned that we were paying for way more students to ride the bus than were actually riding the bus, and also there were students riding the bus that were not even current students, which explains the decision to use the bus passes,” explained FAMU PD Assistant Police Chief James W. Lockley Jr.

When this issue was brought to FAMU’s attention, the University decided to implement a plan to accurately track the number of students riding the bus.

In November 2005, students were informed they had to pick up a bus pass from parking services in order to use their bus privileges and they could no longer use Rattler Cards.

“StarMetro and FAMU have worked diligently over the summer to develop a new proposal that will meet the needs of FAMU students while simultaneously addressing issues of accountability and ridership,” said Dr. Vincent June, vice president of student affairs.

Meanwhile, FAMU recently extended the 2005-2006 contract during the renegotiation period. Therefore, there will be no interruptions in the service to students during Fall 2006.

According to Ron Garrrison, executive director at StarMetro, FAMU was concerned there was a miscount of the number of students actually using bus service.

“I just recently came to this company and I do know that the contract being renegotiated is completely different from the ones in the past,” explained Garrison. He agrees that the contract is definitely more equal between FAMU and StarMetro this time.

“We have put all of our numbers and budgets out on the table for FAMU and we are looking forward to having this contract finalized,” added Garrison.

The new proposal will include both the “Venom” route (campus area) and the “Fare-Free” routes (around town). Final review of this proposed contract is currently being finalized by the Office of the General Counsel and will soon be shared with StarMetro representatives.

“Each semester students need to bring a current school schedule and your Rattler Card to parking services in order to attain a new bus pass. If you lose your bus pass you have to pay a $25 replacement fee,” said Lockley.

The reason for the costly replacement fee is to prevent students from giving their bus pass to someone who is not a student at FAMU, and then trying to attain a new one. This would create the same problem all over again with individuals who are not currently enrolled FAMU students utilizing bus services.

Many students were concerned about what exactly the transportation fee that appears on their accounts covers. Lockley explains that the $50 transportation fee covers everything that relates to transportation including parking decals, the parking garage, road repairs and much more.

Student Body President Phillip Agnew, 21, a fourth-year business administration student from Chicago, Ill, assures students the services will not be cut without the students knowing. They should continue to take advantage of the bus privileges since they are paying for it, he said.

“Andrew Gillum and a host of others are working with StarMetro to renegotiate a fair contract for both the students and FAMU,” added Agnew.