In its first meeting of the decade, SGA allotted time for a conversation with FSU’s Student Transportation Center (STC) to allow center staff to answer questions and address concerns Jan. 28.
Secretary Lexi Kays said she believes the RamTram service has improved. She then addressed a concern she had regarding the tram skipping stops in the athletic lot near the field, even when the tram had few to no passengers on board.
STC Manager Alex Backer asked for clarification regarding what time she experienced the issue. He apologized and explained trams running during those times are usually at capacity and they are working to address the issue by adding half-hour shifts during peak hours.
Backer also indicated new hires complete a four-hour-long training session and it is emphasized to drivers they must pick students up at the athletic and commuter lots.
STC Manager Stephanie Bennett indicated the best ways to address concerns with STC are to call the STC desk attendant, e-mail STC, use the FSUGo app, or fill out a form online or at the STC office.
Outreach and Events Coordinator Danielle Shaw said she called for a tram the day prior, but it never showed up.
Bennett apologized for delays and said STC has 50 unstaffed open hours, but had incoming new hires.
Senator McKenzie Ward shared her experience with a tram driver who didn’t allow her enough time to get to the tram.
Backer apologized and said STC addressed the issue at their monthly safety meeting and implemented a new rule requiring tram drivers to wait one minute before leaving a stop.
Senator Destiny Phaire said her experiences with the tram service were more positive, and the drivers she encountered have given her time to get to the tram.
Senator Jake Maradian said he has experienced a lot of instances where wait times for the tram exceeded 30-40 minutes.
Backer said auxiliary calls – requests to shuttle people to places off campus such as CVS or the mall – are a factor in this issue.
He also cited tram maintenance and fuel problems as contributing factors. “We’ve dealt with a lot of maintenance issues. Even this past week, we had a flat tire on one of our trams, so that took a tram out,” he said.
“We also run into a lot of fueling issues where we have to go to other locations that are farther away to fuel up,” he added.
Backer said they are working to address these issues.
According to Backer, STC has six trams but only five are in service.
Publicist and Recruitment Coordinator for SGA Ayanna Ferguson asked if STC would consider hiring a separate person to work the service desk instead of taking a tram driver out of rotation.
Bennett said STC has been exploring the potential of adding a new person to help with the desk duties.
Backer added budget constraints are an issue to adding a new person.
Student Trustee Olivia Beverlie asked STC if there is anything that they need from administrators to help tram operations run more efficiently.
Backer indicated STC’s biggest challenge is budgetary limitations. “It really comes down to budget. It’s about $12,000 to lease a tram and if you have a full-time driver, you have to think about the cost of salary and benefits. Contract drivers are high up there,” he said.
Beverlie asked if STC was given extra financial support by administrators other than what they are already allocated.
Bennett said that, after last semester’s Administrator’s Forum, “another budget was given from the [chief financial office].”
Backer added, “It wasn’t enough to lease a tram. It wasn’t enough to hire another full-time driver to drive as much as our full-time drivers do now.”
Beverlie asked how well they thought the transportation system was functioning as a student-run operation.
Backer said the University’s 20-hour-per-week limit for student workers is a challenge, “especially for us because we operate about 520 hours a week.
“Last semester, we had 110 open hours. It’s management’s job to get those hours covered, and if we can’t get them covered, we have to drive,” he said.
Bennett added she knows of students who had to find jobs off campus because 20 hours was not enough for them.
“We have multiple students on our staff who have two jobs,” she said.
“We are adults at the end of the day, and we have to make an income to afford college,” she added.
President Matty Bennet said he would bring up the issue of the 20-hour work rule with the Student Employee Task Force.
Bennet also requested that STC submit an official memo regarding the 20-hour work rule to SGA so that they could better address the issue with the task force. STC agreed to submit a memo.
During Open Forum Beverlie talked about potentially having more SHAPE posters in the bathrooms.
Ward, who is also the Open Educational Resource Amassador, brought up the limited availability of textbook rentals at the bookstore and the lack of options.
Kays added that “the bookstore this semester is extremely disorganized.”
She explained, “the books are organized by author instead of by class like they used to be, which is super inconvenient for all of our run-in and run-out needs.”
She also expressed concern about textbook prices. “My professors are requesting that we purchase books that are extremely overpriced. One the books I was going to have to purchase was $400 and I have six professors. I am in a class that has three separate professors teaching it, and each had been requesting that I buy over three books,” she said.
Jen Aruna said she also experienced an issue with the bookstore. She purchased the wrong online book due to a clerical error.
Beverlie said she would bring up the issues with the bookstore at the Board of Trustee’s meeting.
Senator Samuel Houle, who has had the “U-Rock” for the last two months, awarded it to Vice President Abigail Salvucci for her consistent positivity.
[Editor’s Note: Evan Lee contributed to this article. McKenzie Ward is a member of The Gatepost.]