PULLMAN — Wheatland Express bus service between Pullman and Moscow will no longer be free, starting Nov. 1,  for WSU and University of Idaho faculty and staff.  Students with valid identification will continue riding the shuttle for free.

A book of 40 ride tickets will be available for purchase from either WSU or UI for $40.  The discounted tickets will be available to individual faculty and staff or to university departments who wish to provide rides to faculty or staff involved in cross-listed courses or other university-related activities.  This $1 per ride rate is less than the $2 fare box rate.

Since students pay for the bulk of transit services at both universities, officials decided to continue free service for the students. 

WSU and UI currently contribute 50 percent, or approximately $100,000 annually plus fuel surcharge, toward the shuttle service. 

Established in the early 1990’s, the Wheatland Express bus service was originally designed to enable WSU and UI students to participate in cooperative academic programs and to mitigate any barriers to students who did not have a vehicle while attending college.

As the service became more popular, more non-student commuters began to use it. In the face of recent funding concerns, the two universities and Moscow and Pullman communities came up with a temporary funding solution.  Community feedback during discussions that led to the solution indicated that many staff and faculty riders would be willing to pay to use the service and keep it going.

Wheatland Express is operating under the final year of an extended contract.  Officials at both Washington State University and the University of Idaho expect to solicit proposals this year from potential providers, with another multi-year contract to be awarded prior to August 2008.

University officials welcome comments and questions about the new fee plan via email at commuter@wsu.edu.