This semester, undergraduate students are starting the school year with AC Transit Easy Passes for the first time, paid for by an increase in student fees.
Assistant Director for Public Safety Niviece Robinson issued Easy Passes outside Sage Hall during new student orientation. She said students were thrilled to get their Translink cards.
“It’s freedom for those who don’t have cars,” said Robinson. She said the passes will allow Mills students to get out into the community more often, and students who drive can use the passes in case their cars break down.
“It’s emergency back-up,” said Robinson.
She also mentioned the convenience of having an Easy Pass for riding BART, as money can be loaded onto the card to use the train.
The passes are intended to create a more sustainable and practical transportation option for Mills students living both on and off campus. Many students, especially those who worked with AC Transit to make the passes a reality, feel the unlimited ridership passes are a way to make Mills a more “green” campus, and to provide students a greater connection to the Oakland community.
Sophomore Kelly Hill was a member of the Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC) last year when students were working to get both AC Transit and Mills on board.
“I know how hard some students worked to get this great service to Mills students,” said Hill. “As students living in the Bay area, the passes will serve as a great tool to explore the area around us.”
Although Hill admitted she might not use the pass as often as students who do not drive, she recognized the benefit of voting for the passes.
“It would have been nice if students with cars had the option to opt out of the bus passes; however, I understand that it was necessary for all students to get the passes to keep the cost for everybody low.”
An Easy Pass will cost students a fee increase of 96 dollars for the year, and means unlimited ridership on AC Transit lines including Transbay. The savings are notable when comparing the Easy Pass to the regular adult fare of 80 dollars for only a 31-day pass, and 132.50 dollars for a 31-day Transbay pass.
Other students who drive do not plan on taking the bus.
Senior Hannah Ryan drives to school, and predicts she won’t use the pass any more than she uses the shuttle to get around.
“I need my car to lug all of my books and computer,” said Ryan. “I think women who live on campus who do not have cars will use the pass.”
Ryan predicted the amount of students who drive to school would not decrease much with the implementation of the passes.
“I think most women who drive use their cars because they come from far away and need the car to get home safely,” said Ryan.
Orientation leader Rebecca Williams, a senior, thought the option to ride the bus would mean less students driving onto campus.
“Less people will drive,” said Williams. “It will cut down on the parking issues on campus.”
Students without cars are looking forward to the convenience of an Easy Pass in traveling to and from campus. Junior Kat Gaines does not drive, and relied on the shuttle last year to get to Mills.
“This year I don’t live where I can easily access the Mills shuttle, so I’m excited about the AC Transit passes,” said Gaines.
Orientation Coordinator Rebecca Waterhouse, a senior, gave new and returning students information on how to get their new bus passes during Orientation weekend. She said she was looking forward to using her own pass.
“I will use it as much as I possibly can because I want to take advantage of all the wonderful things there are to do in the Bay Area,” said Waterhouse.
Undergraduate students who have not yet received their Easy Passes can do so by accepting the terms online, found on the Mills Portal under the link AC Transit, and picking them up from Sage Hall, room 138. If HMDS does not have a student’s photo on file, the student must submit one and will receive their pass seven to ten days later.