Budget cuts end 30-year program that transported disabled, injured students to class

There are accessible parking spots outside of Holton hall, which houses the Student Access Center. Students with specific mobility needs can be accommodated through the center. (Julie Freijat | Collegian Media Group)

After three decades of offering the service, the Student Access Center will no longer operate its individual shuttle availability for students who need special transportation accommodations because of budget cuts.

“Fiscal changes [and] budget reductions, in the past few years have impacted the funds available for the shuttle. This year’s financial impact was more than we can make up for and we can no longer support the service,” Jason Maseberg-Tomlinson, Student Access Center director, said via email.

The program was started to help accommodate students navigate a campus that had more vehicle traffic. At the time, K-State also “lacked curb-cuts,” which was a navigation barrier for students in wheelchairs, Maseberg-Tomlinson said.

It’s looked different over the years. Recently, the service has operated using golf cart transportation. But before the Kansas State campus was pedestrian-centered, Maseberg-Tomlinson said the center used a van.

Going forward, students who have need of special transportation accommodations will be asked to use the aTa Bus that runs routes on and off campus. Through the Demand Response program, individuals can request off-route “origin to destination” transportation between 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on most weekdays.

“It is a way for individuals with disabilities and injuries to access transportation services when they cannot get to regular routes,” Maseberg-Tomlinson said. “They can also take students around town and provide more service than we could.”

In the last few years, Maseberg-Tomlinson said, aTa has worked to increase their reliability. For instance, the organization has added GPS into their vehicles to allow for route tracking and timing for riders.

All K-State students can ride aTa Bus free of charge with a student ID, but Demand Response has an added fare when riding within Manhattan city limits. Additionally, aTa buses are wheelchair accessible.

Students with specific concerns about the changing program can reach out to the Student Access Center or Office of Student Life.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.