The Robertson Scholars program will discontinue its free bus service between Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, effective next semester.
According to an email sent to the Robertson Scholars Wednesday, the Robertson Express Bus will begin charging $2.50 for a one-way ticket starting January 7, 2013. The change comes in response to a shift in operator from Duke Transit to Triangle Transit. Students will still be able to ride for free if they present a GoPass.
Robertson Scholars will be given GoPasses by the scholarship program. All Duke students are eligible to apply for a free GoPass through the Duke Parking and Transportation offices. UNC students who are eligible registrants of the Commuter Alternatives Program can also receive a free GoPass.
The Robertson Scholars website describes the bus, which runs half-hourly, as a resource “for all university affiliates, encouraging them to take full advantage of the educational, cultural and social offerings of both campus communities.”
The author of the email, Beth Owen, associate director for finance and administration for the Robertson Scholars Program, could not be reached for comment.
The change has not yet been officially communicated to the Duke and UNC communities outside of the Robertson Scholars. Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, said on Sunday that he had not been informed of the adjustment.
Sam Veraldi, director of Parking and Transportation Services, and Phail Wynn, vice president for Durham and regional affairs, could not be reached for comment in time for publication.
The bus route’s schedule and stops will remain unchanged.
Students have voiced disappointment in the added fees and how they might affect travel between the campuses.
“The entire point of the Robertson bus is to facilitate greater collaboration between two of the best schools in the United States. This doesn’t just hurt some abstract vision of collaboration, but it also hurts students, too,” said UNC freshman Joe Calder.
Freshman Hailey Diaz, a North Carolina native, agreed.
“It’s disappointing and prevents me from wanting to use the bus more,” she said. “I have tons of friends at Carolina, and the bus system made it really easy and convenient to visit them and explore Chapel Hill.”
Fedor Kossakovski, a freshman Robertson Scholar at UNC, said the change was understandable but worried that the fees would dampen student exploration.
“It’s so easy to just jump on the bus right now if suddenly you want or need to go to the other school, so without this consistent and free option many students will have trouble experiencing the other campus as easily as students before them used to,” he said.