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COTA buses to roll out new BuckID policy

Lantern file photo

Central Ohio Transit Authority buses will require Ohio State students to swipe their BuckIDs in order to ride on COTA buses beginning Jan. 1, 2012.

All OSU students are required to pay a $9 quarterly fee to ride COTA buses, and with the new policy, only people paying the fee will be able to ride on COTA busses.

Beth Berkemer, COTA spokeswoman, said the main reason for this change is to track who is riding the buses.

“It’s to see how many OSU students are actually using the service that we provide them,” Berkemer said.

Currently, OSU students are allowed to ride on the COTA buses by showing their BuckIDs to the bus driver. With the switch, swiping the ID to verify student enrollment will be required.

Corey Engelken, a fourth-year in engineering, said the switch to having students swipe their IDs is much easier on the drivers and riders.

“A lot of times they have to take a long look at it,” Engelken said. “So it possibly would be simpler to swipe.”

Although it might be more simple to swipe, some students are not excited about the transition.

“I hate the idea of it just because it’s a hassle,” said Lauren Miller, a third-year in exploration. “I think it’s annoying.”

The switch will eliminate alumni and former students who use their IDs to get on the bus for free. Berkemer said the system would have a database of numbers that are correlated with BuckIDs of active students. However, there are no names associated with these numbers.

Although swiping a BuckID on the bus does eliminate people who have an ID but have graduated, Berkemer said this was not a reason why COTA was making the switch.

“Our No. 1 priority was not to eliminate the number of people using their expired passes,” Berkemer said. “It’s just kind of like a bonus.”

Stephanie Thetge, a second-year in evolution and ecology, said she is worried about is the number of people who use the COTA buses after the switch.

Thetge said it might not be a good idea “because the COTA buses will not be used as much.”

However, Engelken and Miller said they think the amount people using the bus will be about the same.

“There is still a huge number of people who actually go to OSU that are going to use the bus,” Miller said. “Because everyone uses the bus, they’re just going to have to pay and suck it up.”

As far as making a grace period to make sure students’ IDs actually work, Berkemer said COTA is still working on it. The important thing is that students make sure they have an active and working BuckID, Berkemer said.

“If it doesn’t work or if they haven’t switched out their ID they are going to have to pay the regular fee,” Berkemer said.

COTA has tried to make sure students know about the switch through a partnership with OSU. Berkemer said she wants students to know there is no money taken from the card by swiping it.

“We can now keep track of who is riding where when,” Berkemer said.

A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Corey Engelken’s last name as “Engleken.”

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