Op Ed: A Fair Deal for TCAT - Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit

Cornell administration formalized its commitment to increase payments to TCAT in June...

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Via Cornell Daily Sun, 8/25/15

Solidifying a sustainable business relationship between Cornell and Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, the administration formalized its commitment to increase payments to TCAT in June through the signing of a memorandum of understanding. The parties finalized the expected agreement following months of discussion after President Emeritus David Skorton initially said in May 2014 that Cornell would not be able to further subsidize the bus organization to address its budgetary concerns before reversing his decision. The product of the collaboration finished this summer will ensure that TCAT maintains a sustainable business model.

Before Cornell’s commitment to increase its voluntary payments, the University paid TCAT $2.6 million annually for rides made by those using Cornell IDs, or approximately $0.83 per ride. Yet in 2014, the bus organization requested that Cornell increase the subsidy to $1 per ride to address a budget deficit of $740,000. After pressure from student activists, Skorton reversed his decision, pledging in an October letter to the TCAT Board of Directors to increase volume discount payments by $1.125 million by 2018, thus preventing potential decisions that could cripple the bus service. By directly working with the TCAT Board of Directors to create this MOU, Cornell has ensured that Ithacans, students, faculty and staff alike will continue to have access to a robust transportation service throughout Tompkins County.

By signing an MOU, the University also commits to paying TCAT in a manner that remains predictable and transparent. Prior agreements, The Sun previously reported, were not made in writing, and by forming a contract Cornell and TCAT can be assured they are treated fairly in dealing with monetary exchanges moving forward. Additionally, the commitment includes a pledge to begin talks on a similar agreement that would outline voluntary payments between Cornell and TCAT beyond 2018, ensuring that a continuing dialogue transpires.

By directly working with the TCAT Board of Directors and pledging to continue discussions surrounding the University’s contributions following fiscal year 2018, the administration has made certain that it pays the organization in an equitable manner that will benefit all parties.

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