Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Cater to Students With Public Transit Deals

Following years of rumors, the university announced officially last week that GOCards outfitted with SmarTrip technology will not become available anytime soon because of difficulties with the card’s design. This particular deal may have fallen through, but this is no reason for the university to sweep the issue under the rug for good.

As The Hoya reported on Friday (“GoCard With SmarTrip Nixed,” The Hoya, Sept. 11, 2009, A5), prototypes of the SmarTrip-equipped GOCard were deemed too flimsy by the university. Roman Fahrmann, director of GOCard services, explained that the GOCard Office “didn’t want to roll out a product that didn’t work for campus.”

Still, the university should pursue other ways to make use of public transportation easier for students. Georgetown students are so often involved in life outside Healy Gates; internships, jobs and volunteer work carry dozens of us off the Hilltop every day. Out of necessity, we frequent public transportation options like the Metro and the Circulator. Since Georgetown lacks its own Metro stop, it is important that the university work with students to make travel within D.C. as simple, quick and cost-effective as possible. The GUTS bus system has been a step in that direction, but the service is infrequent and often unreliable.

A considerable number of universities in urban areas provide some kind of student discount for public transportation options in their respective areas, including Loyola University in Chicago; Washington University in St. Louis; Seattle University; the University of California, Los Angeles; Fordham University; and the University of San Francisco. Many universities in the Boston area, including Tufts University, Brandeis University and Boston College participate in the MBTA Pass Program, which offers an 11 percent discount on unlimited monthly passes. All of these universities either offer to include the price of a monthly or per-semester transportation pass in student bills or work with local transportation authorities to offer a student discount.

With such a large proportion of Georgetown students working on Capitol Hill or elsewhere in D.C., it only makes sense that Georgetown should work with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to pursue a similar deal of its own. (With the renovation of Safeway leaving Georgetown without a local grocery store, the use of public transportation is now a high priority for most students on campus this year, if it wasn’t already.) Students should be able to show their GOCard to a sales representative or conductor and receive a discount accordingly.

If the university is feeling ambitious, it should reach out to other universities in the D.C. area, such as The George Washington University, the Catholic University of America, American University and Howard University, to create a discount program with WMATA similar to the MBTA Pass Program. All college students in the District could benefit from cheaper public transportation fares.

What’s more, few Georgetown students seem to explore the District extensively. A university-negotiated public transit discount for students would likely motivate more of them to explore the city. While students are certainly able to get SmarTrip cards on their own (or simply pay each Metro fee individually), we encourage the university to move on a deal with WMATA and try to secure a discount. It should take a similarly active role in encouraging students to explore off-campus means of enrichment.

The SmarTrip-enabled GOCard was an exciting prospect, and its dissolution is regrettable. The failure of this deal should be a catalyst for further negotiation with WMATA, however, not the final straw in the quest to ensure better public transit options for students.

*To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact [opinionthehoya.com](opinionthehoya.com). Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.*”

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