Bus “Brouhaha” at FAMU

Florida A&M University wants to put the brakes on free bus rides for its students, but StarMetro says not so fast, and plans to continue the service.

FAMU freshman Martesha Williams just found out her school plans to close the door when it comes to free rides on star metro.

Martesha said, "It kinda caught me by surprise because I pay fees to ride the bus for free, and all of a sudden they’re going to cut it out."

Many students found out about the move when going to the school's Web site.

Kendra Walker said, "That's our only way to get around. If we don't have no bus we already, money as it is on tuition, we really don't have extra money."

In a letter to StarMetro, FAMU takes issue with how drivers collect fares. Right now students show their ID and the driver punches in a number.

Ron Garrison, Executive Director of StarMetro, said, "What's happened is the ridership has gone up, so it's costing the university money, and September they changed the ID card but are still concerned with numbers we report to them.”

StarMetro charges FAMU 46 cents per ride in comparison to the regular fare of a $1.25. It's a cost the school passes on to its students.

We tried contacting FAMU's student affairs office several times about the move, but our calls were never returned. StarMetro officials are hitting the streets letting students know that they'll still be able to ride the bus for free after May 15.

Garrison said, "We wanna continue service for the students. We don't want to interrupt service, continue to work with the university to come to an agreement that works for everyone. We don't want the students to be stranded."

But StarMetro and the city won't absorb the costs forever and many students such as Williams worry that FAMU won't get back on board when it comes to free rides.

Williams added, “If they take away the free bus pass, it's going to be hard for me to go to work and I don't have any family up here."

The school says it will look into reestablishing the service when StarMetro gets a new fare collection system, which is scheduled to be in place next fall.