KENTFIELD, CA — College of Marin students now have unlimited access to Marin Transit bus service with expanded services between downtown San Rafael and both campuses thanks to overwhelming campus support for a new student transit fee.
“We anticipate ridership will go up considerably,” said Jonathan Eldridge, vice president of student learning and student services “as transportation has come up as an access issue for students.”
Students who continue to drive themselves to campus will also gain from less traffic on the roads, more campus parking, and the ability to hop on any Marin Transit bus for work or leisure. Simplicity and efficiency have been the focus of the new program.
The program; funded through a new mandatory student fee of $3 per unit, up to $35; was supported by 72 percent of the students in a campus vote taken in spring. The fee for summer semester is $4.50 per unit up to 4 units, with a maximum amount of $18 for 4 units or more.
New express routes between established routes aim to speed up transit times for students at peak use hours. This has been a long-term thought at the transit district, said Robert Betts, director of operations and planning for Marin Transit.
“We put a lot of focus on strengthening the connection between downtown and the campus,” Betts said.
The idea to increase student bus access evolved through discussions with COM that focused on increasing transit services to low-income students. It grew into a broader initiative to provide better access to both campuses for all students while improving routes that serve the two campuses. Marin Transit explored existing programs at other community colleges in the state and COM math faculty helped analyze bus ridership numbers. Marin Transit estimates about 550 trips to and from campus are made daily, or about 275 student bus-riders.
Starting in the fall, COM students will have a new, more direct shuttle between the Kentfield Campus and San Rafael Transit Center in Downtown San Rafael, as well as limited express shuttles between Kentfield and Indian Valley Campuses on school days.
The new COM Card provides enrolled COM students with services beginning the day they get a bus sticker on their student ID card through the first day of the next semester. Students enrolled in credit or noncredit classes for the fall 2015 semester will have unlimited Marin Transit access from the beginning of August through the end of January. The bus pass for spring semester students will serve them from the beginning of January through the end of August. Transit access for students during summer runs from the start of the summer semester through the first day of the fall semester.
Student transit riders will save money, as the cost of a monthly pass is generally $80 or $2 per ride. The pass may also help students overcome challenges to get to a job site and it may open social and recreational opportunities as well.
“It really opens up their opportunities for mobility,” Betts said.
Students will be surveyed during the course of the year to refine services.
“Any time we change or add services we do a lot of monitoring to see how it’s going to be used,” Betts said. “We want to ultimately have the most effective and efficient system in place.”
It is the first significant step of transforming the student ID card into a more valuable access card for a number of new student services. Current ideas include expanding the student ID card to function as a library card, cafeteria payment card, and Go Print card.
How to get a COM Card
At the beginning of each semester, credit and noncredit students may pick up their free COM Card and/or validation sticker at the Kentfield Campus Cashiering Services Office. COM Cards are not transferable or refundable. More information on the COM Card is available online.
Marin Transit Route Information
Students can visit www.marintransit.org for routes and schedules. Real-time arrival predictions are available for some Marin Transit routes at www.marintransit.net. The COM Card is not accepted on Golden Gate Transit regional or commute buses or ferries.