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Published: Monday, 10/25/2004

UT to drop bus service for Hampshire Heights

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A University of Toledo bus route that transports students to apartments north of campus is scheduled to be eliminated next year when the university discontinues leasing apartments there to students.

But that has prompted protests from students who question why the largest of four transit routes is being taken out of service.

Guy Beeman, president of Undergraduate Student Government, said his group is working with the International Student Association to lobby administrators to change their minds.

He said the Hampshire Heights route, which services Kenwood Gardens, Hampshire Heights, and Cedars apartments, transports international students and others to and from class.

Laura Abu-Absi, vice president of USG, added that research is under way to determine how many students independently rent in that area. According to university officials, the Hampshire Heights route has logged an average of 1,870 rides weekly.

"My issue with it is if money for the service is coming from the student general fees, we don't want to see it discontinued," Miss Abu-Absi said. "We are going to do our best to raise this issue with the administration."

More than $600,000 in student general fees is earmarked for parking and transportation.

The issue of bus service came up last week at a board of trustees committee meeting, with a request to spend $873,000 for new buses tabled until December.

Trustees are reviewing the bus service, as well the university's child care and medical centers, to see how their work relates to academics. That means the future of all three in general remains uncertain.

Harry Wyatt, associate vice president for facilities management, said he intends to move ahead with plans to end the north bus route before students return to class next fall. A notice about the route being canceled already appears in the transit service brochure as well as on its Web site.

"We wanted to give them enough advance notice," Mr. Wyatt said.

Mr. Wyatt said the money will be shifted into increasing busing services on the Bancroft and Scott Park campuses and also into absorbing some inflationary costs.

He said the decision to end the service was made in response to an announcement from residence life that the university would no longer lease apartments there for students.

For about four years, the university has leased apartments for students off-campus because of overcrowded residence halls, said Wayne Gates, assistant vice president for student life.

The university did not renew some of those leases this fall - all of them were in Hampshire Heights - in anticipation of an enrollment decrease. The residence halls are about 95 percent full this fall.

Contracts for the remaining 435 apartments at Kenwood Gardens, University Park, and University Circle will not be renewed for the next school year, Mr. Gates added.

That's because the university will open a 620-bed residence hall in the fall. A private 552-bed apartment complex will open at the same time on Westwood Avenue.

Returning students from those past apartments to campus is eyed as a positive step, Mr. Gates said.

"We've attempted to make [the apartments] as similar to campus as possible," Mr. Gates said. "But we believe it's better for students to be on campus because we believe it's easier for them to connect with the campus and the institution."

Contact Kim Bates at: kimbates@theblade.com or 419-724-6074.



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