Slug Shuttle Only Measure for Special Election

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Measure 55, the proposed Slug Shuttle fee, will be the only measure offered during the special election, which begins Nov. 21 and ends Nov. 27.

The Slug Shuttle fee, first proposed during spring quarter, failed to meet the threshold amount of voters needed for the measure to pass.

SUA Chair and author of the original Slug Shuttle ballot Shaz Umer said he doesn’t anticipate any change in voter turnout for the special election.

“Considering Slug Shuttle is the only item on the ballot, my understanding is voter turnout will not meet the threshold of 33 percent of the undergraduate student body,” Umer said via email. “There aren’t enough incentives, such as other measures, driving students to vote in this special election.”

Alternatively, Internal Vice Chair Max Hufft said the special election’s close proximity to the holiday season will promote student support for the measure.

“A lot of students are going to turn out because it’s getting close to the holidays,” Hufft said. “They’re realizing the amount of transportation they’re going to have to go through just to get home, or at least to the airport.”

Originally intended to feature several other amendments and measures, the special election was called due to a typographical error regarding the sponsorship of SUA constitutional amendments.

However, due to the truncated timeline of the special election, amendments made to the SUA constitution are not featured on the special election ballot.

The $1.50 per student quarterly fee required by Measure 55 will fund a shuttle service exclusive to UC Santa Cruz students, taking them from Santa Cruz to Diridon Station and the Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Hufft expressed particular concern for safety when using various forms of transportation during breaks and holidays, drawing from personal experience.

“Whenever I’m taking public transportation, I’m always watching my stuff and looking to see who’s around because it is a safety issue,” Hufft said.

SUA Chair Shaz Umer agrees student safety is a number one priority, especially when moving between various forms of transportation.

“If you take public transportation, you can expect at least four transfers with a total travel time of up to three to four hours,” Umer said. “This is a big concern when we have our students waiting at these stops for a long period of time, especially depending on the time of day and weather conditions.”

Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) director Larry Pageler said the major concern with public transportation travel is overall efficiency, not safety. While using the Highway 17 Express costs less than other options, travel time can take close to two hours, Pageler said.

Alternative airport services such as vans and shuttles prove considerably faster, though they can cost $60 or more each trip.

“The safety of students trying to reach the airport and Caltrain was one of several concerns,” Pageler said via email. “Though the primary incentives for creating Slug Shuttle were convenience and cost.”

If Measure 55 does meet voter turnout and passes during this special election, Hufft said the shuttle service will not be offered for this winter break, but may be available for spring break, though this is not guaranteed.

Ultimately, Hufft sees Slug Shuttle as a long range project.

“[Slug Shuttle is] another one of those programs down the road that we’ll be able to judge whether students want to expand it,” Hufft said. “If there are problems with the referenda, it proposes an opportunity, especially for students who want to change something or add to the program.”

Measure 55 expects approximately 800 students to use Slug Shuttle per quarter, leaving around 16,000 students paying the quarterly fees without utilizing the service.

The measure is estimated to generate $69,187.50 annually. Measure 55 gives $22,831, or 33 percent, of this revenue back to students on financial aid.

Considering the benefit of the shuttle service may not be seen directly by all students, Umer points to an overarching theme of community at UCSC.

“As an undergraduate student, we have to ask ourselves is $1.50 worth it to make sure our peers and classmates will have a safe trip home?” Umer said.