Starting Thursday, Tipsy Taxi will be re-implementing Thursday taxi services and increasing fares to $3 each night. The Thursday service will be a pilot program this spring, and will continue into the 2011-2012 school year if successful.
ASUCD Senators Andre Lee and Matt Provencher worked with Special Transportation Services director Sabastian Belser to pass an amendment that would reflect the change in services and fares.
“The increase [in fare] is necessary to avoid increasing the subsidy provided by ASUCD, which in turn is paid for by student fees levied every quarter,” according to the press release from ASUCD. “The unit runs at a deficit of approximately $30,000 every year by design.”
ASUCD expects to save $2,000 with the added service and new fares.
According to the press release, the current fare increase is meant to reflect inflation, shift the service modestly from a general-fee to a use-fee model and pay for the staff and maintenance costs of providing Thursday service.
“It’s one thing our tour guides brag about every time they show our school,” said Lee. “It’s a safe way for students to get from one place to another and it’s one of our most well known services.”
Before Thursday service was discontinued in 2006, numbers show Thursday was the most successful night for the buses, Lee said.
The pilot program this spring will only run at half capacity, which means only two buses will be running on Thursday nights.
“Five weeks into the quarter at our fiscal budget meeting we’ll look at the numbers and decide if Thursday service can work and if we should expand it to full service,” Lee said.
Tipsy Taxi, a unit of Unitrans, is also working to create a mobile site where students can request a taxi ahead of time and a phone queue system so callers know how long it will be until they can speak to a representative.
“Matt and I have been working with Sabastian [Belser] since spring quarter and he’s a fantastic director,” said Lee. “He’s always looking for ways to improve the unit and is willing to go the extra mile to make those improvements a reality. If anyone deserves the lion’s share of credit on any of the improvements we’ve been making, it’s him.”
Belser plans on analyzing the ridership numbers before the budget hearings to decide whether the service should be increased, cut or stay the same.
“It costs a lot of money to keep the drivers out there,” Belser said. “Tipsy Taxi is a very expensive service. We don’t do it to increase revenue. We do it to give student jobs and keep drunk drivers off the streets of Davis.”
Belser said that ASUCD recently purchased Tipsy Taxi a new van for roughly $45,000, which will reduce Tipsy Taxi’s running cost.
ANDY VERDEROSA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.