Yousra el Nemr and Fatma el Shenawy
The Transport committee, which includes student representatives and administration members, met again last Tuesday to discuss the progress of the issues addressed by the AUC community regarding the Family Transport’s service.
Following the two recent bus accidents, which involved the R1 (Maadi) and R8 (Giza) routes, problems with Family Transport have resurfaced, and prematurely terminating the transportation contract with the company has become a possibility.
Problems discussed in the meetings included late buses, accidents, and a deteriorating condition of the buses.
Scheduled to end by the beginning of the academic year in 2013, the administration discussed whether they would choose to not renew the contract or continue with the company given it would change its service.
Currently, there are three alternative solutions according to the administration, which include multiple vendors, or having multiple vendors plus AUC owned buses. Another solution would be AUC managing the transportation system on campus.
“Buses (do not) usually (accommodate) the number of students, and sometimes we have to stay a long time waiting for the bus supervisor to bring us another one and this could cause us to be late for our classes”, said Hager Kamal, an economics student.
However, many of the problems students and staff have been facing are out of the company’s hands.
“Some of the problems with Family Transport are controllable, but others are not. The complaints by students about the buses being late are usually due to traffic and is not the fault of the driver,” said General Director of Transportation Sherif Sadeq.
While it seems difficult for the university to deal with more than one vendor, the administration believes that a multiple vendor system would be a good option.
“Family is giving us a difficult time. We believe that having about five vendors managing the transportation for the university is an easier option,” said Sadeq.
“It’s not about renewing the contract or not; if the quality of the buses is going to be improved and the timings will be more accurate, then we do not have to change the company, and if not, then the contract should be terminated,” said asking Kirolos Samir, a construction engineering sophomore.
The university is now dealing with three bus providers along with Family transport, including Nile Gate and El Masriya, the new company providing buses for the Desert Development Center (DDC) workers is getting very good feedback from the workers after they demanded the transport company be changed in last month’s strike.
While it is not clear which of these, if any, would remain to manage transportation, the administration is open to options. Even tourism company buses are being considered, despite the risk that once tourism is revived in Egypt, it would be difficult for these companies to keep supplying the university with buses in the long run.
When Sherif Sadek was asked about whether they are going to target a cheaper bus provider in order to decrease the bus fees, he said that there is certain criterion that determines the costs.
“The cost of buses is 20 million pounds. That’s the provider only, excluding other costs, such as wages for people that manage the transportation in AUC, appraisal, Wi-Fi and other extra services,” he said.
“What we receive from students is 8 Million, and another 12 Million is paid from the budget. The expenses might increase as we will be adding a new route, (Sherouk) so we still don’t know if the bus fees are going to be increased or not,” he added.
Whether AUC will be able to run its own transportation system is also another option that will be analyzed in the coming report, given the previous president’s recommendations that it is not AUC’s business to own buses and outsourcing is better. However, the current administration is to study all possibilities.
The transport committee will be meeting again on Oct. 25 to discuss the report and get feedback from students and faculty who are part of the committee.
The senior administration will then meet again to produce the final report, which is expected to be released during the first week of November.