HAYWARD - Cal State East Bay and AC Transit have launched a public transportation program that will provide free bus rides to students and faculty.
The program that kicked off Jan. 5 puts an end to the university's transportation service, the Hillhopper bus, which picked up passengers from the Hayward BART station and brought them to campus.
Now, riders who show a university photo ID card can board any 92-line AC Transit bus free of charge. The bus runs the same route the Hillhopper previously ran.
"It just did not make any sense to have two buses half full going up the hill," said Chris Brown, associate vice president at the university.
Officials began discussing the possibility of the joint effort about a year ago. Brown said the new program is an upgrade, as the AC Transit bus runs into the evening and has scheduled routes during the weekend, something that was lacking in the Hillhopper's service.
Cal State East Bay has agreed to an 18-month contract with AC Transit to allow free rides for faculty and students.
Under the contract, the university will pay $44,730 per quarter and $14,850 during the summer for the service.
Funding generated by fees paid for parking violations on campus are expected to pay for the new transportation program, Brown said.
University reports show that the Hillhopper previously served about 600 passengers a day.
AC Transit officials studied its ridership to see if it would be able to accommodate the influx of passengers along the 92 route. As a result, a 60-foot articulated bus now runs the 92 line, which also makes a stop at Chabot College on Hesperian Boulevard.
View schedules at www.actransit.org.