After months of negotiation, a new contract has been formed between Binghamton University and the student-run Off Campus College Transport bus company that would allow greater access to maintenance and storage facilities for the new buses.
According to Jared Kirschenbaum, Student Association president and OCCT CEO, buses are currently kept at an off-campus University storage facility. The facility is not equipped to perform maintenance on the buses, so they need to be brought to a small maintenance area on campus.
This area, which Kirschenbaum says has little room for mechanics to move and no lift to allow for work under the buses, is sometimes insufficient for bus maintenance, and OCCT is often required to send the buses off campus for maintenance.
According to BU spokeswoman Gail Glover, the renovations to the current garage will save money by allowing maintenance to be performed on site.
OCCT, which provides free transit to BU students and is funded jointly by the SA, the University, the Graduate Student Organization and Off Campus College Council, has been running under a temporary renewal of last year’s contract, which expired in October, until negotiations on the new contract could be concluded.
“We’re going to cancel that as soon as the new contract takes effect,” Kirschenbaum said of last year’s contract.
The contract includes a clause for the replenishment of buses, which are replaced in a yearly cycle, and funds to begin renovation on the OCCT bus garage.
“Design for a repair facility is nearing completion and the project will then be bid for construction,” Glover said. “The University believes that OCCT’s annual operational costs will be reduced since many repairs, which are currently outsourced, will now be able to be accommodated in the new facility.”
Kirschenbaum is equally optimistic about the benefits and cost-effectiveness of the new garage.
“The new facility will have lifts, multiple bay garages and other opportunities to do in-house repairs on site, which will be a good opportunity to save money,” Kirschenbaum said.
According to OCCT Director Giovanni Torres, members of OCCT are enthusiastic about the prospect of a new storage and repair facility.
“We’re just really excited to have somewhere we can do repairs in house and streamline operations,” Torres said. “We can get broken buses back on the road faster.”
According to Kirschenbaum, construction on the facility was scheduled to begin soon, but has been delayed. He hopes the garage will be ready for use by next school year.
According to Glover, the new contract has been signed by both the University and the OCCT, but still needs to be approved by the Attorney General’s office and the Office of the New York State Comptroller (OSC). The contract consists of a two-and-a-half-year commitment of financial support for OCCT from BU.
“It is a two-and-a-half-year contract that will run from approximately Apr. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2013,” Glover said. “Once the Attorney General and OSC approve the contract, the current contract will be cancelled and the new one will take effect.”
Glover said the University believes that helping to finance OCCT provides important benefits to students.
“The University recognizes that many students rely upon OCCT and Broome County Transit [BCT] and we believe that providing reliable transportation services to our students is critical to support the mission of the University,” Glover said.