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Davis, California

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Unitrans faces cuts to service

Due to the implementation of furloughs, students may have to find another way home at night.

This is one possible solution Unitrans has suggested in response to their mechanics receiving furloughs.

“Our operations can get by with fewer days, but the maintenance affects the day to day operation of our service to students,” said Geoff Straw, Unitrans manager. “If we can’t manage it through overtime or request service from outside agencies, we’ll have to cut service.”

University of California implemented the furlough – and because it affects all departments on campus, Unitrans is not exempt. Unitrans has nine career employees who are subject to the UC furlough program.

When the furlough was first announced, Straw attempted to make an appeal and was denied exemption, but was granted the ability to choose furlough days.

“All the departments are hurting from furloughs,” Straw said. “We’re going to have to share the pain like everyone else.”

Many have an issue with this particular furlough since Unitrans does not cost the university itself any money. Students pay $42 every quarter to Unitrans as part of their ASUCD fees. These funds make up nearly half of Unitrans’ $4.8 million budget.

“Unitrans is solely funded through grants and student fees,” said ASUCD Controller Eli Yani, a junior political science and classics double major. “Furloughing the mechanics would be superfluous when we can support them ourselves.”

Straw agreed, noting that students will be paying Unitrans the same amount with their campus-based fees, but getting less service. Taxes from Davis residents also contribute funds to Unitrans.

Unitrans hopes to receive input from the community through a commission designed to present solutions for the cuts. The student government has already passed a resolution against the Unitrans furloughs.

“The amount [UC] is saving is negligible,” said ASUCD senator and coauthor of the resolution, Jack Zwald. “Regular Unitrans service is so great that we can’t afford to see it gone.”

The furloughs are expected to save Unitrans $48,000; however, officials are not yet sure where this money will go. This makes finding solutions to the cuts difficult, Straw said.

“The big issue is that we don’t know what the exact impacts will be because we haven’t heard enough information from the university,” he said.

Some possible cuts Unitrans may have to make are decreasing night hours of operation and reducing the number of “tripper buses,” or extra buses called on to pick up any overflowing passengers from overcrowded stops.

However, Unitrans officials say they understand the strain the cuts would put on students and are looking for options that have the smallest impact on students’ transportation needs.

“We will use our resources in the best possible way to obtain the maximum service possible,” Straw said.


LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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