Correction: The Alamo Colleges can afford to establish a short-term bus service to Northeast Lakeview College through a shuttle service from the nearest bus stop in Converse, but the demand from students must be determined.
District says whether the college receives bus service is up to city.
By James Dusek
The lack of public transportation going to Northeast Lakeview College has long been an inconvenience for students and potential students who do not have easy access to private transportation.
“My biggest concern is that as Northeast Lakeview College becomes active, the lack of a bus stop will limit the amount of students,” said student trustee Emmanuel Nyong, biology sophomore at Palo Alto College.
Nyong’s concern is shared by philosophy sophomore Richard Wells, president of NLC’s Student Government Association.
Nyong and Wells worry that as the college gets closer to accreditation, some students from within the city will be unable to access the college.
Wells also said the campus access fee paid by all students includes VIA bus usage, which means NLC students aren’t getting the full use of the fee.
Getting a VIA bus going to the college isn’t as easy as it sounds, however, according to John Strybos, associate vice chancellor of facilities.
He said he’s been trying for years to get bus service out there.
Strybos’ headache stems in part from the fact that the Alamo Colleges cannot afford to establish bus service to the college.
VIA operates in cities that pay for the service with a sales tax. Live Oak and Universal City — the cities the college lies in — chose not to allocate their taxpayer money to VIA, spending that money instead on emergency risk and economic development demand, Strybos said.
“It’s up to the city of Converse and the city of Universal City.” Strybos said.
To get bus service to the college, Strybos said, Universal City or Live Oak would either have to vote to pay a portion of their sales tax to VIA, or rearrange their city limits to allow Converse to cover part of the NLC campus.
The nearest bus stop to the college is just inside the city limits of Converse — which does pay for VIA service — on the corner of Kitty Hawk and Topperwein roads.
The stop is about a mile and a half away from the college — approximately a half-hour walk.
Wells says he’s been working with the district and the cities this semester to understand the issue. Next semester, he says, he wants to begin working directly with students to understand their needs.
“My hope is that we can at least get this going by the end of the spring semester,” Wells said, though he acknowledged the situation is complicated and almost certainly won’t be resolved completely by the time he leaves his position.
Kim Turner, Universal City assistant city manager, said Universal City did have bus service at one time, but the city decided to stop the service due to low ridership. VIA was unable to confirm this information.
Despite Strybos’ efforts to work with the cities and VIA, Turner hasn’t seen the lack of bus service to be much of an issue.
“I don’t know if there’s data that indicates a need for bus service,” Turner said.
Strybos said the college hasn’t polled its students in a while regarding the lack of public transit. If there were enough demand, he says, there could be a realistic short-term solution.
“If there were enough demand, and if Alamo Colleges had sufficient budget, we could run a private shuttle that goes from the (nearest) bus stop to Northeast Lakeview College,” Strybos said.