The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Possibility of losing HEAT in push for carbon neutrality

The Higher Education Area Transit (HEAT) buses will lose 80 percent of their funding in 2009. This could affect student riders, environmentally conscious plans and Guilford’s budget. The Federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program (CMAQ) grant for $6.5 million covers 80 percent of the costs to run HEAT. The money will be depleted after the third year of the bus line’s existence in 2009.

George Linney, transit system planner for The Greensboro Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the city covers 10 percent of the cost and the seven colleges and universities in the area divvy up the other 10 percent. These schools pay different amounts based on their populations.

“We’re looking for colleges to put in more money to keep HEAT rolling,” Linney said. “It has met and exceeded our expectations. We foresee it going too successfully to cease it. This summer we’ll get started talking to colleges about funding year four.”

Guilford pays $10,000 a year for students to use HEAT services free of charge, according to Erica Cosentino, director of student leadership and engagement. Currently, money comes from the student activity fees from traditional students’ tuition.

Senate allocates the leftover funds from this portion of tuition to student organizations.

“My main concern is that we don’t want to cut money for student activities, but we also don’t want to limit transportation options for students,” Cosentino said. “Also, we’ll be dependent on other colleges – if the bigger schools drop out, we couldn’t sustain their portion.”

Other colleges in Greensboro utilize HEAT services more often than Guilford students. The 71 route is the only bus line connected to the stop outside Binford Hall.

Guilford students used HEAT 3,600 times in fall 2006 whereas GTCC students made 88,000 trips and UNCG students 45,000.

“Going forward, it makes sense to set up the fee structure based on ridership,” said Aaron Fetrow, dean of students. “Even Greensboro College, which has about the same population as Guilford, makes up a third of the riders while Guilford only makes up 2 percent.”

Greensboro gained HEAT by applying for a federal grant that gives money to cities with poor air quality to develop better public transportation systems.

HEAT and other methods of transportation were discussed at The Metropolitan Planning Organization presentation of their 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan on Feb. 12.

“They’re still focused on expanding and maintaining roads,” said senior Malcolm Kenton, who attended the information session. “They should move away from being so car-oriented.”

Guilford’s decision to become carbon neutral through the President’s Climate Commitment also means trying to cut down on cars for transportation.

“One of the things we were hoping for is better public transportation, so the potential loss of the HEAT buses would hurt the immediate efforts to gain carbon neutrality,” said Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Jim Dees.

Biking provides an environmentally conscious way of traveling that Guilford students utilize despite a lack of lanes.

“Sometimes I’m riding and a bike lane just ends. Its like what am I supposed to do, go one way for a mile and turn around?” said senior Tyler Mobley.

Bicycle lanes and edge lines have been created recently on Hobbs Rd., Westridge Rd. and Spring Garden St. However, major roads around campus do not have full routes.

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