Shuttle bus system may get boost from Congress

Josh Coffman

Students waiting on shuttles may find the wait to be a little shorter next year.

Western is expected to get $2.5 million in funding for the shuttle bus system through the transportation appropriations bill working its way through the United States Congress.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced last week that Western would get the funding.

Gene Tice, vice president of Student Affairs and campus services, said the money will be used to replace existing shuttles and add more shuttles to the current rotation.

The university may also build a facility to maintain the shuttles and add wider shoulders to roadways at shuttle stops, Tice said.

Details of how the money will be spent will be included in a finalized plan to be completed within “the next couple of months,” Tice said.

Robbin Taylor, director of governmental relations, said the $2.5 million is greater than the university initially anticipated.

Only $2 million had been earmarked for Western in McConnell’s first version of the bill, said Julie Adams, McConnell’s press secretary.

Tice and Taylor worked with Western’s representative in Washington to seek the funding through McConnell’s office.

Tice said it is important to invest in the shuttle system because more students are going back and forth from the Hill to the community college.

With increasing enrollment at the community college, the number of shuttle riders is expected to increase, he said. The shuttle system also helps with parking on campus.

Tice said he hopes the shuttle improvements reduce the amount of time students have to wait for buses, and that they get more students to park on the edge of campus or in the Campbell Lane lot.

“It gives us a better opportunity to utilize our perimeter lots,” he said.

The transportation appropriations bill is expected to go before the full senate before the end of this year’s session, and then to President George W. Bush for final approval.

It is unlikely the amount of funding will be changed or removed this late in the process, Adams said.

Also included in the bill is $5.25 million in funding for the Transpark. The funding will be used to build and maintain roads for the park.

Reach Josh Coffman at [email protected]